Transit Stories: Taylor Jaffee

Catskill Mountainkeeper – Livingston Manor, NY

I grew up in Livingston Manor, NY on Snowdance Farm. Livingston Manor is in a rural part of the Catskills in Sullivan County, so when my parents moved our family upstate from New York City after the 9/11 attacks, they assumed that most people in the region were farming and decided to follow suit. Since 2002, we have raised a variety of livestock, from sheep to pigs to cows. It’s been a labor of love, and I really enjoyed growing up on a farm.

My brother and I went to the Homestead School, a Montessori School in Glen Spey, NY, and when I aged out of the Homestead in 8th grade, I went to my local public school in Livingston Manor. Getting back and forth to school made my brother and I become instantly familiar with transportation issues early on. 

The Homestead School was about one hour away. Without any reliable public transportation at the time, and because we were new to the community, my parents had to drive us back and forth on their own. It was difficult for them to drive 4 hours every day while growing their business and managing farm chores. We were only able to stay at that school when my parents started making friends and were able to develop a carpool network within the community.  In 8th grade, though, I was introduced to the magic of busing. Even though the bus ride took an hour, it picked us up in front of our house and dropped us off right at school. 

I went away to a boarding high school in Delaware, but anytime I came home for break, I was at the mercy of my parent’s schedule. I didn’t have a license and there wasn’t any local public transportation for me to use to visit friends. The only public transportation near us is mostly focused on just getting people back and forth to New York City from Monticello. 

I now work at Catskill Mountainkeeper, an environmental non-profit that protects and advocates for the resources and communities in the Catskill Region. Our office is about 30 minutes from my home in Livingston Manor, and I would love to be able to hop on a bus to get to work on days when I’m tired or just don’t feel like driving. Increasing rural public transportation options and also walking and biking paths is not only safer and more accessible, but it could also help improve health outcomes in our county. Sullivan County also ranks 60 out of 62 as one of New York’s least healthy counties, and decreasing the number of cars on the road and increasing opportunities for biking and walking would be a great way to improve health outcomes. Additionally, investments in public transportation infrastructure and biking and walking paths would create sustainable jobs for families in our communities. 

We are starting to see some changes, but we need to make larger investments in rural transit. One of the public transportation services that has recently emerged near me is MOVE Sullivan which is a local bus line. When I was speaking to the director of MOVE Sullivan this past week, they said they gave over 90,000 rides last year. That’s amazing! The interesting thing is that even with a limited schedule, given MOVE Sullivan only operates mainly during the week and during normal business hours, the fact that they service that many people really speaks to the need to invest in more rural transit in our area.

There is a huge opportunity to care for our communities and our planet by investing money into expanding public transportation services that connect residents within and between communities and creating more bikeable and walkable towns. 

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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