East Side Transit Equity (ESTE, formerly FESTEC)

In spring of 2013, District Councils 1, 2, 4, and 5, the East Side Prosperity Campaign, and the East Side Area Business Association (the “Steering Committee”) came together to develop and implement a project to engage the community in conversations about transit planning. Their strategy included partnering with the Organizing Apprenticeship Project to create an organizing apprenticeship to provide training and strategies for engagement that recognize the need for deeper community involvement in decisions and priorities for transit development. Fostering East Side Transit Equity Conversations (FESTEC) was created as a community-run effort with a team of ten organizers; nine from communities of color, immigrants and indigenous communities. The goals of the team were to (1) engage underrepresented voices around transit development early; (2) develop a set of Transit Equity ideas and priorities and (3) create a plan to sustain community engagement as transit development is planned on the East Side. Beginning with National Night Out events on the East Side, this team has engaged hundreds of East Siders through surveys, focus groups, and community group meetings at high schools, senior residences, community recreation centers, marketplaces and playgrounds.

What is Transit Equity?

Transit Equity means:

  • Ensuring opportunities for meaningful public involvement in the transportation planning process, particularly for those communities that most directly feel the impact of projects and funding choices
  • Being held to a high standard of public accountability and financial transparency
  • Distributing the benefits and burdens from transportation projects fairly across all income levels and communities
  • Providing high quality services – emphasizing access to economic opportunity and basic mobility – to all communities but with an emphasis on transit dependent populations
  • Equitably prioritizing efforts both to revitalize poor and minority communities and to expand transportation infrastructure

In 2013, FESTEC held a series of listening sessions and community town halls to hear about the neighborhood concerns on transit equity. Out of the conversations, the East Side Transit Equity Covenant was born; many community residents, elected officials, business leaders and groups signed on to support the covenant to ensure equitable transit opportunities for the East Side. It is a document outlining the core equity principles that reflects the discussions with the community.

The Equity Principles are:

  • Everybody Benefits
  • Race Equity Assessment
  • Safety
  • Accessibility
  • Community Involvement
  • Sustain Equity Organizing

In 2014, FESTEC reconvened and changed its name to East Side Transit Equity (ESTE). The organizers are continuing to build on the Transit Equity Covenant through community engagement and organizing. The first series of events are Mind Munch Mondays, these are smaller meeting geared to build community relationships as well as hearing more specifics on how the community wants to benefit from transit development.

Click here to view the complete East Side Transit Equity Covenant and Recommendations.