Transit Stories: Flordelis Medina

Helena, Montana

I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines on May 1, 1938. I was always interested in healing people, and decided to pursue, and eventually graduated, with a medical degree from Santo Tomas, a Catholic University in Manila. After medical school, I married my husband who was a music teacher.

In 1967, we decided to move to the United States, and my husband applied to be a high school teacher in Argyle, Minnesota. In 1967, he started teaching there and then sponsored myself and Cristina, our daughter, to come to the United States. By 1970, we gave birth to our second daughter, Monica.  In 1977, we decided to move to Butte, Montana when a high school music teaching opportunity opened-up for my husband. We stayed in Butte for 22 years until my husband retired. We moved to Helena in the 1999 to live out our retirement and to be close to our grandchildren.

My experience with public transit started about three and one-half years ago after my husband passed away. I’ve never had a driver’s license and had never been behind a steering wheel. I was always dependent on my husband for getting around.  Our bus system, Helena Transit, runs from Monday to Friday only, and we have no bus service on weekends.

The way our bus system works is that you must book your ride the day before. I use the bus to do all my shopping, and I really like to go to Costco. When I book my ride, I tell the dispatcher to go from this place to that place. When it is my pickup time, say 1:30pm, I get a text from them at 12:30pm telling me to be ready at the pickup location.

Sometimes I see school kids on the bus, but mostly the riders are senior citizens. Many of the bus riders use wheelchairs or have service dogs. The nice thing about taking the bus is that the bus drivers know us on a first name basis, and the riders know each other. We’re not just a number to the bus drivers. That’s what I like about it.

I would like to see expanded service. On the weekend, I go to church at St. Mary’s Catholic Community. Service starts at 10am, and I must rely on my friends to pick me up and take me.

Also, sometimes the bus will run late. When it’s cold in the wintertime, even if it’s only a couple of minutes late, it’s hard to wait outside in the cold. We need covered and heated bus stops especially given that most of the riders are seniors.   If I were sitting in front of a Member of Congress, I would ask them to invest more in our public transit system. So many of us rely on it to go to the doctors, go shopping, and go to church. The bus system should be available every day of the week, not just Monday to Friday.  I really hope the Stronger Communities through Better Transit Act passes, so more seniors like me can get around town more easily.

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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