News / Published on Feb 4, 2023

Transit Equity Day 2023

Transit Equity Day is Feb 4. This date was chosen to honor American civil rights activist Rosa Parks’ birthday.
By Nashika Stanbro, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program Manager and Michael Adams, Assistant Transportation Manager

A decal of Rosa Parks decorates a Community Transit bus in celebration of Transit Equity Day

Transit Equity Day is Feb 4. This date was chosen to honor American civil rights activist Rosa Parks’ birthday. Rosa Parks is best remembered for her transformative role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Her act of resistance by refusing to give up her seat on the bus was a pivotal moment for the civil rights movement and advancing equity in transit. 

On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for disobeying an Alabama law that required Black bus riders to give up their seats to White bus riders, igniting the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Parks’ action and courage led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on transit was unconstitutional — an important milestone in dismantling the Jim Crow Laws that persisted in the U.S. for a century after the end of the Civil War.
Parks said, “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

Transit Equity Day highlights that all people have the right to affordable public transportation. The day also speaks directly to our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Service-Focused Core Values and our Mission. Both of which, affirm that we equitably improve access to transportation for all people and strengthen connections in the communities we serve.

“Access to public transit is a fundamental right for everyone in Snohomish County and can make a significant difference in quality of life for people in the communities we serve,” said Ric Ilgenfritz, CEO of Community Transit. “Our responsibility and our commitment is to ensure we are consistently learning and evolving as we support the transportation needs of the county.”

After completion of a successful pilot program in 2022, Community Transit now has an embedded social worker who is contracted through Snohomish County Human Services. The goal of having an embedded social worker is to understand our customers’ needs and connect them to needed services with local community partners. 

In the Fall of 2022, Community Transit launched Zip Alderwood, which is an on-demand service where riders can pay with their ORCA card, cash, bus tickets, credit or debit and prepaid debit cards. Alderwood Zip was created with community partners from Edmonds College, YWCA, Washington Department of Social and Health Services, Arc of Snohomish County and Homage Senior Services The area was chosen as the pilot program due to its diverse and dense population.

Community Transit continues to expand its role in the equity space by forging new community partnerships and creating programs that uphold the legacy of Rosa Parks and other transit equity activists. 

Across the country, Transit Equity Day inspires varying events where unions, transit rider organizers, climate and environmental justice groups come together to plan action. Transit agencies recognize the day in different ways, like offering free fare or organizing community events to honor Rosa Parks. While not offering free fare or holding a special event, Community Transit recognizes the importance of Rosa Park’s legacy and how her bravery helped to create an improved and more equitable transit experience for all.