Transit Tuesday: Shelly Neal, Ed.S.

Miami, Floirda – Transit Alliance Miami

When I think about public transportation, I think about my grandmother. One day in 1976, she decided that it was important that I learn how to ride the bus, which she took nearly every day to her job as a maid in a Washington, DC hotel. Pretty quickly, I learned the benefits of taking public transit; not only was it essential to people like my grandmother being able to earn a living, but as I got older I also found that it was often times faster than driving in DC’s terrible traffic. Even better, I didn’t have to worry about finding and paying for parking, and I didn’t have to concern myself with the cost of gas. 

As I grew up and began to travel the nation and the world, public transportation remained a part of my life. No matter where I went, if there was a bus, a train, or a trolley available, I would take it.

For most of my life, I rode transit because I wanted to. That remained true when I moved to Florida nearly 20 years ago. Back in those days, I alternated between driving and taking public transit, depending on the circumstances of my trip. But as I’ve gotten older, I began to have problems with my health, and in 2018 I stopped driving altogether.

Unfortunately, I can’t speak about my recent experiences in Miami in the same positive way that I speak about that first trip with my grandmother forty-eight years ago. I still lead a very active life and take the bus to my doctor’s appointments, the grocery store, and my weekend activities, but all too often the bus simply does not show up due to a shortage of drivers. When it finally does arrive, I sometimes can’t get on because it is too crowded.

Crowded and no-show buses recently turned a trip to the local Amtrak station into a 3-hour odyssey, when driving would only take 15 minutes. Even when the buses do show up, the transit agency doesn’t have enough resources to run enough service to make it efficient. For example, getting to the grocery store that is a 10-minute drive from my home requires me taking 3 buses and takes up to an hour.

As Americans, we can do better. Public transportation should work for all of us, regardless of where we live and whether or not we have the ability to choose whether to take it. We all deserve to be able to get to the places we need to go in a timely manner, whether that is a grocery store, doctor’s office, or a visit with friends.

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. 

For media inquiries, contact Doug Gordon,



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