Rights in Transit
Public Transportation and the Right to the City in California's East Bay

Kafui Ablode Attoh

A close look at the struggle for transportation equity in California


Is public transportation a right? Should it be? For those reliant on public transit, the answer is invariably “yes” to both. Indeed, when city officials propose slashing service or raising fares, it is these riders who are often the first to appear at that officials’ door demanding their “right” to more service. Rights in Transit starts from the presumption that such riders are justified. For those who lack other means of mobility, transit is a lifeline. It offers access to many of the entitlements we take as essential: food, employment, and democratic public life itself. While accepting transit as a right, this book also suggests that there remains a desperate need to think critically, both about what is meant by a right and about the types of rights at issue when public transportation is threatened.

Drawing on a detailed case study of the various struggles that have come to define public transportation in California’s East Bay, Rights in Transit offers a direct challenge to contemporary scholarship on transportation equity. Rather than focusing on civil rights alone, Rights in Transit argues for engaging the more radical notion of the right to the city.

Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation

Page count: 176 pp.
2 b&w images, 3 diagrams, 1 map, 1 table
Trim size: 6 x 9


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KAFUI ABLODE ATTOH is an assistant professor of urban studies at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at CUNY's School of Professional Studies. His writing has appeared in Progress in Human Geography, New Labor Forum, the Journal of Cultural Geography, the Geographical Bulletin, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, Urban Studies, Antipode, and Space and Polity.