Riders let buses go by; wait for alternative rides: 1968
Passengers let buses pass them by on Benning Road as they await alternative transportation December 2, 1968 during a one-day bus boycott of the X lines to protest higher fares.
Posters with the hitchhiker’s thumb were placed in the right front windshield of volunteer auto drivers who picked up boycotting passengers at bus stops along the routes.
The boycott was organized by the Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis (ECTC)—an organization that employed direct action to further transit riders needs including opposition to highways, support of building the Washington Metro system and takeover of the public bus system.
Posters advertising the boycott read “Erase Chalk” referring to the owner of the D.C. Transit Company.
The boycott achieved some success, but was hampered by a lack of sufficient alternative vehicles. The committee expected 200 cars and 3 buses, but only 40 cars and 1 bus were available the day of the boycott.
A fare increase from $0.27 to $0.30 sparked the boycott that called for a $0.15 cent fare for District riders, a $1.50 weekly pass, free rides for school children, black representation on the transit commission and a takeover of the bus system.
While the boycott did not achieve its immediate aims, this and subsequent actions laid the basis for public takeover of the four area private bus companies by Metro--which was originally intended only to build and operate the subway system.
For more information and related images, see flic.kr/s/aHskrqfbpr
Photo by Bernie Boston. The image is courtesy of the D.C. Public Library Washington Star Collection © Washington Post.