Public Transit and Macro Social Work: A Case Study – #MacroSW Chat Feb. 21, 2019


Chat transcript

light blue square announcing the chat, with logo and website, shows a subway train track bending around curve in the distance.       In today’s society, for those with disabilities, for those living in our urban sprawls, for those with rural residences, or for those who can not afford a car, it is impossible to thrive without reliable transportation. And for many, that means public transportation.

We need a healthy, robust public transit system to ensure that everyone can get around, regardless of race, class, disability status, or income.

Too often, choice in employment, or access to healthcare, is limited by poor or nonexistent public transport.

This week, we’ll look at macro social work and organizing around public transit, using the Buffalo (NY) Transit Riders United as a case study. logo of Buffalo Transit Riders United, with image of a bus and hashtag #btru on its front window


A few facts:

  • The Buffalo – Niagara Falls metropolitan area has a population of over 1.3 million, The city of Buffalo has over 261,000 people and ranks 73rd in size among all cities in the U.S. It is ranked as the 8th most segregated city ( )  by the U.S. Census.
  • 58% of jobs are not accessible by public transportation, or bus routes are insufficiently scheduled to reach a workplace on time for the job.
  • More than 1 out of 5 rural residents who live south of Buffalo do not have a car:
  • Many businesses disallow employees to wait on the premises for the bus- especially onerous during bad weather.
  • Buffalo Public Schools now provide all students with bus passes, and there are many negative interactions with transit police.
  • Problems with Buffalo’s public transportation system include buses being late, not stopping, not clearing snow away from bus stops, cutting routes and leaving riders without any means of transportation.

Our guest experts are Holly Nowak, MSW, @buffalo_TRU  and the MSW student intern at CEJ, Kendall Tubb, @SociologyCactus.

Discussion questions:

  1. Is public transportation a civil right? Why or why not?
  2. What are the qualities of a healthy public transportation system?
  3. How does public transit intersect with other social justice issues?
  4. What is a social worker’s role as a community advocate?
  5. Why is it important to centralize impacted people’s experience?


Listen to this week’s podcast episode.

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