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Bus Riders Union


The Bus Riders Union (BRU) is a civil rights advocate group started in 1992 in Los Angeles, CA. The BRU is a part of the Labor/Community Strategy Center (LCSC), a think tank and advocacy group. The BRU formed in opposition to the policies of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA or MTA).

In 1994, a coalition including the BRU, LSCS, Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed class action civil rights lawsuit against the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for its racist and discriminatory policies. The suit charged that LACMTA used Federal funds in a discriminatory manner, which is prohibited by Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to bring subways to typically white suburbs at the expense of immmigrant and minority urban areas.

The matter was settled before the and resulted in the 1996 MTA/BRU Consent Decree Compliance. This 10-year agreement obligated the LACMTA to make the bus system and the transit-dependent a funding priority by several means:

  • Bulleted list item Fare Reduction
  • Bulleted list item Reduction of bus overcrowding
  • Bulleted list item New Service lines to major centers of employment, education and healthcare throughout the county
  • Bulleted list item Establishement of a Joint Working Group (joint BRU and MTA policy making body that oversees the implementation of the Consent Decree)

Accomplishments, Strategies and Goals


The BRU claims several results of their campaigns:

  • Bulleted list item Blocked the elimination of the monthly bus pass and reduced its fares from $49 to $42.
  • Bulleted list item Establishment of the first $11 weekly bus pass which resulted in millions of dollar saved for transit users and increased ridership.
  • Bulleted list item 2,000 new CNG-powered buses, replacing aging deisel-powered buses. Addition of 300 more buses.
  • Bulleted list item Establishment of Bus Rapid Transit lines on major surface streets. Bus Only Lane on the 20-mile Wilshire Blvd. from downtown to the ocean.
  • Bulleted list item Over $2.5 Billion of funds redirected to bus systems .
  • Bulleted list item 1 Million+ Annual Bus Service Hours Added and 12% Increase in Bus Ridership.
  • Bulleted list item Created 800+ New Public Sector, Green, Union Jobs.
  • Bulleted list item Eliminated the Student Pass Application Process (increasing its use by 64%).


The BRU claims to represent over 400,000 bus riders in Los Angeles County, the bus drivers, and the transit dependent including minorities, immigrants, students and low income workers. The BRU often cooperates with related civil rights groups to spread awareness, raise funds and bring class action lawsuits such as in the 1994 case against LACMTA. Finally, the BRU organizes public speaking events and attends rallies, marches,and protests through the Drum and Chant Corps.

Stop the Transit Cuts

The BRU works to stop the elimination and reduction of bus service. As of 2011, they campgained to stop the bus cuts of 11 lines and the reduction of 16 others.

No Fare Hike

In response to public pressure and the 1996 Consent Degree, the LACMTA bus fare was stable for 10 years. The BRU opposed plans for LACMTA's 1997 fare increases proposal that increased a daily pass from $3 to $5. The BRU claims the increases hurt minorities and leads to an increase of automobile users, carbon emissions from the automobile usage and ulitmately climate change and lung disease. The LACTMA admitted that ridersip decreased by 5% within a year after the fare increases. In addition, ridership increased by 41% between 19882-1985 when fares were reduced.

Clean Air and Economic Justice Plan for Measure R

The BRU reaches out the city and LACMTA leaders. In the past, the BRU has effectively brought pressure to Mayor Antonio Villagoirosa to support Measure R. After Measure R was passed, the BRU has continued to pressure the MTA to use the funds allocated by Measure R as planned and not redirect funds to highway and rail. The BRU has help rallies with community members speaking about their experiences of transit. Speakers describe the current state of overcrowded and often late work they miss from highly congested areas and the need for LACMTA to provide for minorities and low income workers who have hours outside the parameters of a traditional 9am-5pm job.


The BRU's main goals are to provide transit users equal access with a clean, safe, and affordable user experience. Some of their specific goals include:

  • Bulleted list item $20 Monthly Bus Pass
  • Bulleted list item 50-cent Fare with Free Transfer
  • Bulleted list item Double the 2,500 Clean Fuel Bus Fleet to 5,000
  • Bulleted list item Freeze Rail Spending
  • Bulleted list item Full Implementation of civil rights Consent Decree
  • Bulleted list item $10 Student Bus Pass Sold at Schools (K-12, College, and Adult School)

Further Reading