Transit Stories: Ms. Teaira Collins

Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburghers for Public Transit

Photo Courtesy of Pittsburghers for Public Transit

I lived my whole life in Pittsburgh and have raised five children here. I grew up in my grandmother’s home, and she was a big influence on me. My godfather was Bishop Gamble, who was the pastor of The Covenant Whosoever Will Church of God in Christ. They both taught me that ‘a life in service to others is a life worth living.

Being able to hop on a bus and get around town is incredibly important to me. I’ve been catching the bus since I was seven years old. I used to buy a ‘weekend pass’ that only cost $3 at that time. That allowed me to travel all around the city, so I could visit my friends and my extended family. 

Nowadays, I use the bus for everything…to go to work, to go to school, and to go with my youngest son, Judah, for his doctor’s appointments. Judah has Down Syndrome. Getting to those appointments are really important for his overall health.

I’ve worked at a number of jobs that have ranged from the VA Hospital, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the Pittsburgh Gazette, and McDonalds. I now work in home health care and use the bus to get back and forth from my place to the homes of those I’m a caregiver for. I have been doing caregiving work for over 18 years now. My clients range from the elderly to teenagers with special needs. 

I also have to use the bus because I was in a car accident a number of years ago. That accident made me lose my hearing in my right ear. Driving just isn’t an option for me. Without public transit, I wouldn’t be able to get to my own medical appointments. I also take the bus to go greet my grandkids when they get home from school given their parent’s are still at work.

What makes me sad and angry about the bus system is that the buses don’t run as often and to as many places as they used to. In the past 20 years, I’ve seen the bus service decline, especially in Black communities. They took a bus away from our neighborhood in the Hill District. This was an important bus because it used to take me and my neighbors down to Mercy Hospital.

I also feel like our bus service has become more spotty. I have to take a bus to go from my house to Shadyside Hospital to get rehab due to my knee replacement. A couple of weeks ago, this bus was 20 minutes late. Why that’s important is that I’m only given a 15 minute grace period to show up for that appointment. Even though they were really nice and didn’t cancel my appointment, I had to sit and wait two hours to see the doctor. That made me late to get back home and greet Judah when he returned from school. It forced me to ask my neighbors, who are both seniors and use walkers, to be there for Judah when he arrived. It was so frustrating.

If we invested more in public transportation, our buses would run better. I wouldn’t have to worry about not getting home on time to meet my son when he gets out of school.

I feel like transportation is a human right. We shouldn’t have to fight for something that we need. I should be available for everyone. At this time of year, no one should have to sit around in the cold and wait two hours for a bus to arrive. Especially when they are scheduled to run every twenty minutes.

My community wants good bus service. We need it.

About Transit Stories

Transit Stories” is a series of real-life experiences with public transit in the U.S. We feature the first-hand experience of public transit riders from across the country. From large cities to small towns, we will document the experiences of the millions of users of busses, trains, ferries, and other forms of public transit in the US. Public transit is essential to our communities, to cooling the planet, to advancing equity. Transit is essential to our very lives.

There is a unique opportunity for the country to make a historic investment in public transit funding to help the country build back better. 

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