Hello, all. I just thought I'd post my speech. It's too soon to tell how I did or what impact it had but I'll post it here in print and video for those interested.
Hello, I am Cameron Johnson, I'm sixteen years old, and along with my fellow comrades from OPAL's Bus Riders Unite! leadership team, I am here to speak about our Campaign for a Fair Transfer, as well as giving a voice to bus riders across the region.
It is crucial that you, the TriMet Board, hear us and respond to issues that we feel are important. I have been testifying before this Board for a while, and I don't feel like it has any impact on your policies or decisions. I come here to testify not to win compliments, but because I want to make a difference.
Outside of this room, I am part of something larger. When I speak at an OPAL event or rally, I feel I can motivate my fellow transit riders, and it's a powerful feeling that stays with you. We at OPAL dedicate ourselves to motivating people into action, and we've awakened transit riders with our Campaign for Fair Transfer. Transit riders want and need a three hour fare. Transit riders have been asked to bear the burden of service cuts and fare increases, and they need something back to make the system work for them again. Transit riders are willing and ready to stand up and take action to win this policy change.
We currently have over 1,750 names and signatures of transit riders on petitions to support our Campaign for a Fair Transfer. Our goal is 3,500 signatures, and we will be back here every month with more and more people who support our campaign.
TriMet can come up with any number of financial projections for why this isn't a good idea or why we can't afford it. Your job is to tell them to go back to the drawing board and figure out how we can. It's about priorities, and putting the resources where it's going to help the most people and the neediest people. Don't tell us you can't afford it when you are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the latest streetcar or MAX project.
When OPAL has thousands and thousands of people supporting this campaign, telling you loud and clear that this is something we want, something we need, you are going to have to wake up and listen. We are the lifeblood of the transit system; we are the ones that support the system and this agency day in and day out. We don't opt out of taking the bus or MAX because we're feeling lazy, or because it's raining, or because we're busy and running late. We ride the system every single day.
The Campaign for a Fair Transfer is a solution developed by the people, for the people. And it's not just for us, those that depend on transit. This campaign is for everyone. More and more people will have more confidence in transit and will start riding the bus and MAX, and we will all benefit from increased ridership and increased farebox revenue. We're doing this for everyone, you included. The survival of our transit agency depends on it. We're not looking for a free hand out, and we don't want to fight with you, we want to work with you. But in order to work together, we need to know that you hear us and are accountable. Otherwise our next campaign may be to elect a board that will.
And the youtube link. As usual, all credits go to Al M and Jason McHuff for the video. Also, kudos to my comrades Nancy and Teresa for their good work!