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July 17th, 2012
thesmithian

As minority bus ridership rises, the racial stigma against the transportation form compounds. When Atlanta launched its Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) system in the 1970s, some hissed that the acronym stood for “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta.” Today, though 78 percent of MARTA riders are black, many black residents still struggle to access the city bus lines, which fail to stretch deep enough into the sprawling black suburbs. (One critic has characterized the lingering problem as “transportation apartheid”). And the racial stigma against buses lingers even in lines that have not yet been built and boarded. When a new bus route was charted through a white Tempe, Arizona, neighborhood a few years ago, neighbors complained that the line would attract serial killers and child rapists. Also: “bums,” “drunks,” and “Mexicans,” who the commentators feared would soon be “drinking out of our water hoses.”

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