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Norwich event to call attention to transit equity on Rosa Parks' birthday

Norwich — Events across the country and state, including at the Norwich Transportation Center, will call attention to issues around access to public transit on Monday, Rosa Parks' birthday.

"Her act of resistance by refusing to give up her seat on the bus in 1955 was a catalyst for the civil rights movement," the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs said on its website. "It affirmed that everyone has the right to equal access to public transit."

Monday is the first time Transit Equity Day, in its second year as a national event, will be held in Connecticut. The Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, Amalgamated Transit Union, Transport Hartford Academy/Center for Latino Progress, 350CT.org and the Connecticut Sierra Club are organizing events around the state, said Samantha Dynowski, state director of Sierra Club Connecticut, a lead organizer of the Norwich event with ATU Local 1209.

Dynowski said the event will highlight issues that include access to transit for riders, equity for drivers, the environment and the importance of having clean buses and encouraging more people to take public transit.

She said many people don't have cars, so ensuring the state has a strong transit system, which is convenient and affordable and gets people where they need to go, is a real equity issue.

It's also an environmental issue. If everyone — and not just those who need to — wants to take public transit, more cars will be off the road, she said. The transition to electric buses is another goal.

"Overall, it's to make sure we have a really strong transit system, so when it's really strong, it's going to address all those components," Dynowski said.

"I think it's a great way to recognize Rosa Parks and her efforts and do it using our issues today with transit," she added.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon.

A Transit Equity meet-up with free coffee, a demo of a Southeast Area Transit District bus, and a raffle with four 31-day bus passes provided by SEAT will take place from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Norwich Transportation Center, at the corner of West Main Street and Falls Avenue. SEAT General Manager Michael Carroll said the SEAT board is certainly supportive of the idea of transit equity and public transit, as well as seeing if funding can be increased and service grown in southeastern Connecticut.

At a 10:30 a.m. news conference, Ariana Woody, president of the Norwich Branch NAACP; Jaroslaw Pizunski, president of and business agent for ATU Local 1209 and chairman of ATU Connecticut Legislative Council; Dynowski and policymakers are slated to speak. That will be followed by a bus ride about 11 a.m.

The social media hashtags of #TransitEquityDay and #TransitEquityCT have been created for the event. More information is available at bit.ly/TransitEquity4CT.

k.drelich@theday.com

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