My name is Jackie. I’m in my 60s, and I use transit everyday to get to work, attend meetings, do my grocery shopping, and to visit friends and family. I wasn’t always dependent on transit, but once I made that switch, I noticed all the barriers that exist for where I can go.
I live in West Philadelphia, where there’s plenty of transit, but once I go outside of this bubble, it takes me a long time to get to most places. If I have to go to Northeast Philly, or South Philly, it can be a very long journey. I soon realized that I had really limited myself to where it was easy to get on and off public transportation. So there are a lot of places that I don’t go to simply because it would take too long to get there. These areas have a transit line, but not enough service, so you probably won’t get there in time, if at all.
I work with a small non-profit as their Director of Operations. If there was a community meeting I wanted to go to, I would do my best to go. But for many meetings, when I know transit wouldn’t get me there reliably, I sometimes have to choose not to go. Even when I have to go shopping, I have to take transit into consideration. For example, there’s a Home Depot out on Baltimore Pike that has more products in it than the ones in the city. Just to get out there, I have to make arrangements with someone to give me a ride. I knew I couldn’t rely on public transportation. This limits me when I need to buy specific products, because what you can buy in the city is different from the suburbs.
Where I live, we have access to many transit options. We have the elevated subway. We have buses. It’s almost like a transit hub. But even then, I don’t think there’s enough service. There’s a lot of options, but you have to wait a long time for the next ride to come. The bus that’s two blocks away from me comes about every 20-25 minutes, which is not frequent enough, so I don’t get on that. Instead, I walk six blocks to get to another bus because that comes more often, every ten minutes.
If transit was more frequent, accessible, and reliable, I would be able to reach more places throughout the day and night. For example, I avoid going out past 6 PM because the buses are not frequent at night, and I face the risk of being stranded because of unreliable transit. If the bus came more regularly outside of rush hours, I would have many more opportunities to meet my friends and be out in the city.
I moved to Philly because of increased opportunities and extensive public transportation. Having reliable transportation has given me peace of mind and helped me to feel safe as I move around the city. The frequency, accessibility, and reliability of transit shapes my daily activities, and not in a good way. Having lived here for as long as I have, I know that transit in Philadelphia needs to improve.