Valley Metro honors Rosa Parks with free bus rides in Roanoke

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – Valley Metro is celebrating Transit Equity Day – a national day of action to honor Rosa Parks’ birthday and bravery.

Known as the mother of freedom – Rosa Parks was a civil rights activist. In 1955, she famously refused to give up her bus seat during segregation.

“We’re celebrating her birthday, Rosa Parks, if she was living, she would be 111 years old,” said BRAGG Advocate Sylvia King.

Every year people honor Parks on her birthday, February 4th, with Transit Equity Day. Bus rides are free and one seat on every bus in Roanoke is saved in her honor.

“In remembrance of how much we have strived for equality,” added King. “Because it doesn’t matter what race or creed you are… As long as you can afford to ride the bus… you can sit anywhere you want to sit to get to your destination.”

The Bus Riders of Roanoke Advocacy Group known as BRAGG, Valley Metro, and Ride Solutions collaborated to distribute snacks and educational flyers to passengers.

“So, Transit Equity Day is the day that we are talking about how buses are for everyone,” said BRAGG Board Member Sharon Fritz.

One of the advocacy groups’ big wins this year is the launch of MetroFLX. The program allows people to schedule rides as needed for the same price as a bus ticket.

“And this is great for the people who work late. And the people who want to do things on Sunday who haven’t been able to go to church on Sunday in Roanoke,” explained Fritz. “No buses have been running on Sunday since 1978. That’s my entire lifetime.”

Leaders say the new initiative is making transit more equitable for everyone in the valley.

“There are so many people around here who can’t afford a car,” added Fritz. “And we should be able to go places on Sunday. And we should be able to go places at nighttime.”

Metro Valley is also celebrating the day with a Community Survey Kickoff. The survey will allow the public to give input on what they want the bus system to look like in the next 10 years. Click here to take the survey in English and here for Spanish.

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