Vermont Transportation Equity Day Conversation and Transportation Equity Awards

Transit Equity Day is a collaborative effort of national several organizations and unions to promote public transit, walking, biking, carpooling and electric vehicles as a strategy to combat climate change. In Vermont, we are pleased to have co-sponsored this event with the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Transportation for Vermonters.

On Feb 4 we hosted a conversation with Laura Jacoby of Old Spokes Home presents in regards to her involvement in the Transportation Equity Coalition. As a part of Transit Equity Day, the Vermont Sierra Club also collected nominations for community members, leaders, and organizations contributing toward a clean, and equitable transit system in their communities.  Watch the event here.

Old Spokes Home is building a Transportation Equity Coalition made up of individuals and organizations who represent communities ill-served by our current transportation systems.  Coalition members will give an overview of transportation equity, the critical role it plays in achieving social justice, and what it looks like in Vermont.

We have selected Rosa Parks’ birthday for this event because she became an iconic and inspirational figure from the civil rights era by refusing to give up her seat on the bus. We want to make the connection to this act of resistance and Ms. Parks’ insistence on equity to highlight the rights of all people to high-quality, clean, and accessible modes of transportation. 

Barbara Donovan- Former Vermont Agency of Transportation Public Transit Manager

Public Servant.

After spending decades in various transit roles in Maine, Barbara moved to Vermont three months before Hurricane Irene. In 10 years, she helped build and develop a well-documented system of public and private transportation with strong fiscal responsibility, a recognition of the difficulties of rural transit providers, great federal coordination, and retired with a strong team in place to continue the good work. Unfortunately, Barbara passed away this past December due to cancer. We are grateful for her service in expanding transit options in rural communities. 

Ross Mac Donald, the current Vermont Agency of Transportation Public Transit Manager stated, “this award is a wonderful testament to Barbara’s leadership and I know she would be honored to receive this award. Barbara was a true champion for low-income clients and persons with disabilities. For more than 30 years she never wavered in her support, always sought new solutions to improve mobility, and was determined to help people achieve their full potential. Our entire public transit staff miss her greatly and strive to continue her legacy in Vermont.”

Migrant Justice

Statewide justice-based organization. Migrant Justice successfully organized an alliance to overwhelmingly pass a law allowing access to driver's licenses regardless of immigration status. This campaign was led by immigrant farmworkers. However, witnessing systemic racism in the implementation of this law, Migrant Justice has continued to fight to ensure the law sees less interference by immigration officials.

Migrant Justice released a statement, “we are honored to receive this award on behalf of the immigrant farmworker community in Vermont who have fought for years to advance equitable access to transportation and to ensure the fundamental human right of freedom of movement." 

Dan Jones of Sustainable Montpelier 

Community Member - Dan is one of the co-founders of the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition, which is focused on realizing more sustainable local systems including food security, land use, and transportation. He is working as a community partner with Vermont's Agency of Transportation (VTrans), Green Mountain Transit (GMT), VIA, and MyRide Community Advisory Group to implement a pilot project called MyRide by GMT, which allows for flexible routes and schedules.

Dan Jones stated that “I am grateful for this recognition of my work in attempting to build a more resilient local future. I couldn’t be doing it without the partnerships of our board and team at the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition. Building a responsive and resilient community is the most important work we can be doing right now.”

Brattleboro Coalition for Active Transportation-

Grassroots Community Organization. BCAT seeks to highlight the social, environmental, and economic values in the normalization of active, non-automotive transportation. Its mission is to promote safe, healthy, accessible transportation options for people of all ages, abilities, and incomes.

This women-driven coalition with 4 health professional members has been working since 2012 for safer streets in Brattleboro for all users.  In 2018 the members expanded the organization to become the Brattleboro Coalition for Active Transportation, working towards the normalization of non-automotive transportation.  They have worked on projects ranging from Safe Routes to School, to walking and biking education programs, and to streetscape projects promoting human-scale use of their downtown.  Brattleboro has become a much more walkable and bikeable community because of BCAT. 

Pine Street Coalition and Racial Justice Alliance

Grassroots Community Organization aligned for a single project.

Through their advocacy work on the Champlain Parkway, these two groups are seeking to promote sustainable approaches to a major new transportation artery, recognizing climate, community, and environmental justice concerns. Their mission to redesign the Champlain Parkway seeks to meet the needs of impacted communities, decrease environmental impacts and global warming emissions, and provide additional facilities for those who walk or bike along the corridor.

Tony Redington for the Pine St Coalition stated that “The Pine Street Coalition is honored to be recognized in collaboration with the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance for standing up to the blatant environmental injustice posed by the Champlain Parkway project and advocating instead for a safer, greener, and racially equitable solution, the Champlain RIGHTway.”

Mark Hughes, of the Racial Justice Alliance, stated “now more than ever our vision for transportation must center on American Descendents of Slavery and other BIOPOC. The RIGHTway offers a path forward with the Champlain Parkway that respects and honors the lives of the folks of the most preeminent neighborhood of Black and Brown people in the State.”