I grew up in Boston but went to college in Ohio, and when I went to Cleveland or Columbus I could see how broken their transit was. Anything I said about MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), it was like, I take it all back.
But there’s still plenty to improve here.
I’d majored in environmental studies and thought maybe I could get a job with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or an environmental non-profit. But this was 2009, and the job market was absolute shit. So, I took a job as a dog grooming assistant at a Petco in Dedham. My family had a car but they used it for their own needs. I didn’t make a lot of money and used transit. A lot of what I earned went to transportation, just refilling the cards. And, because I was taking a bus, a train, and another bus, I spent a lot of time traveling.
Sometimes I’d have to close out the grooming section and, depending on when I was getting out, I’d be getting one of the last buses. I had a 15- to 20-minute walk to the bus stop, and if I didn’t time it just right, I’d have to wait 45 minutes or an hour. It wasn’t comfortable for me, waiting alone in the dark.
After that, I landed work at an after-school program, first handling social media, then as an administrative assistant, then as a mentor to kids in the program. I wound up balancing two part-time jobs to get full-time pay, and it was a lot. Fortunately, both these jobs were at programs on the MIT campus, so I didn’t have to take as many buses — just the red line.
Now I work at Thompson Island Outward Bound, coordinating with school partners to recruit students and engaging with families. And, after some time in the suburbs, now I live in the heart of Dorchester, where transit is accessible to me — though I wish fares were more affordable and managing CharlieCards were easier, refillable online with our balances available right away.
But I know not everyone in the Boston area has access to transit that’s frequent and reliable. And I know from my own experience how important that is. Every person should have fast, reliable, safe transit. I hope Congress can help make that reality by investing in transit services.