The feature-length documentary “Free To Ride,” which tells the story of the years-long disagreement between the Greater Dayton RTA and the city of Beavercreek to expand public transportation in the community, will debut Feb. 17 at the Washington D.C. Independent Film Festival.
The film, produced by the Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, follows the Leadership for Equality and Action in Dayton’s four-year struggle to gain access to jobs and education through public transportation routes.
The Beavercreek City Council initially blocked RTA’s 2011 proposal to extend its service onto Pentagon Boulevard to access jobs and educational opportunities there. The council’s decision was later challenged by LEAD. Ultimately, the federal government threatened to take back more than $10 million dollars in federal funding if Beavercreek blocked public transportation.
In 2013, the city council agreed to the stops and the first buses rolled onto the expanded Beavercreek routes in January 2014. This service allowed access to Clark State Community College and ITT Tech as well as jobs along Pentagon Boulevard and inside the Mall at Fairfield Commons.
This local issue will be the center of discussion during the DC Independent Film Festival. The movie will premiere on Friday, Feb. 17 and will be followed by a panel discussion that will include commentary from RTA CEO Mark Donaghy and other transportation experts.
"The Kirwan Institute has produced a complete documentary of this story in the truest sense, which now serves as a training tool for communities as they deal with access and growth issues related to public transportation,” Donaghy said. “While it was a difficult time for our community I am pleased that our story can have a positive purpose going forward."
The RTA is working to bring the film to local theaters in the future.
Other speakers on the panel discussion for “Free To Ride” include Anita Cozart, senior director of PolicyLink; Lessie Henderson , co-chair of Prince George’s Advocates for Community-Based Transit; and Radhika Singh Miller, director of civil legal aid initiative for the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association.