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

Transit Tuesday: Peter Polikapenko

Syracuse, NY – Syracuse United Neighbors I am 73 years old and retired after a 31-year career as an administrator in the Syracuse City School District. I grew up and still live in the house where I was born on the south side of the city of Syracuse. I was part of a large family, all of whom, at one time or another, lived and raised their families in our home. I am proud of the fact that my two nieces have followed my sister and I into careers in education, and that the son of one of my nieces is finishing up his college degree in education, as well. In addition to working with children, I have volunteered for community groups such as Syracuse United Neighbors, PEACE, Inc., the Southwest Community Center and summer youth programs for Syracuse Parks and Recreation. As I’ve gotten older, my eyesight has deteriorated, and I have found that I prefer to take the bus rather than drive my car. While I still have my driver’s license and a car, I mostly use the bus to get around town. I am lucky that Centro, our local bus service, has routes to most of the


Transit Tuesday: Kathryn Hall

Albuquerque, NM – Together for Brothers I am an active member of Together for Brothers in Albuquerque.  I am proud to be part of an organization that helped push through zero fares and tries to make things better and safer for transit riders and bicyclists.   I didn’t grow up in New Mexico but in 2018 I was on a bus to California with both service dogs, 2 carry-ons, my walking stick and more luggage underneath the bus.  The bus stopped in the middle of the night in Albuquerque, NM, got delayed and then canceled all together.   There wasn’t another one for a week! By that time, my son who lived in Albuquerque had convinced me to stay to help him.  Eventually he left and moved to Omaha and my health got too bad to travel by bus.  Fortunately my brother came down and we got a 1 bedroom apartment together. In 2009, I was diagnosed with COPD and fibromyalgia. Then In 2016 I was diagnosed, a bone disease, osteonecrosis. Right away they did the surgery on my left hip and eventually replaced it. Between that and carpal tunnel, I ended up having 2 surgeries on my left hip, 1 on


Transit Tuesday: Guerda Synal

New York, NY – The Elmont Cultural Center I am new to the country and have lived in the Elmont community for one year. I am married and have two children, a six-year-old girl and a seven-month-old girl. We left Haiti because of unrest and violence. I don’t speak English very well yet. I want to take ESL classes, but it is difficult to get around, and I don’t have someone to watch the children. I think I will work on that later but for now I watch television. I am picking up a few words. Because I don’t speak English very well, it makes it difficult to understand how to take the bus and where. It would help if the information were in different languages, especially Haitian-Creole and Spanish, but some places don’t even have English signs and schedules for the bus. On the weekend it is very hard to take the bus.  They run late or not at all.  I’ve heard that there is a driver shortage, that buses break down and I never know the schedule and have no idea why they don’t show up. You simply stay at the bus stop until a bus shows up or go


Transit Tuesday: Stewart Schwartz

Washington, D.C. – Captain, United States Navy (Retired) and Coalition for Smarter Growth I served during the Cold War as a mission commander on land-based anti-submarine patrol aircraft (the P-3C Orion). When the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union dissolved, I turned my focus to working on sustainable land use and transportation. I think a number of experiences influenced my arrival at my post-military career and my focus on advocating for better transit and more inclusive and sustainable communities. Like so many Americans, I grew up in the suburbs where you had to drive everywhere for everything. Actually, if we live in the suburbs when we’re young, parents have to drive us everywhere for everything. It was at college and my Navy ROTC program that I first used buses to get around the university and at the San Diego’s Navy bases where I did my summer training. Many sailors who didn’t own or couldn’t afford cars depended on the buses (and the nation’s first modern light rail/trolley) to leave the base during their liberty (time off). Local workers absolutely depended on the buses and the trolley in San Diego, as they tried to navigate that big, sprawling region. I saw


Transit Tuesday: Markus Young, Sr.

Louisville, KY: VOCAL-KY I am from Louisville, Kentucky. I have lived around Louisville and spent time outside Kentucky and outside of Louisville. My family is what brought me back to Louisville. I am seeking to enjoy and create life with my family. I was born in west Louisville. I have been staying in the south end or east end of Louisville. I take the Tarc for all of my transportation needs. From personal reasons to going places to see friends to professional. Also, back and forth to work or meetings or services that I attend. I have no personal transportation, so it is my only mode of transportation. When it comes to challenges, I have experienced using public transit, it depends on the Tarc stop in relation to how close it is to a job. It is one thing to be able to get a job, but also to get to and from the job. You must get a Tarc bus close to where you work. Then, you must walk from the Tarc stop to your job. Then your job back to the Tarc stop. The only main factory that I know of that has an actual Tarc route is


Transit Stories: Jalisa English

Chicago, IL – Access Living I was born and raised in Chicago, in the Hyde Park neighborhood. I went to George Washington High School. I’m in the middle of finishing up my college degree in business management and currently taking some computer and information technology classes. While I’m going to school, I’m also really trying to build as much work experience as possible. It can be tough for me to work, due to my medical issues, but I want to show people that even with my health issues, I matter and can help society. Currently, I’m working at Chili’s and have been there for three years. I have something called short bowel syndrome. It’s a gastrointestinal disease. What happens is when I eat something, in five or ten minutes, I’m hungry again. My body struggles with absorbing things. I am missing 50% of my digestive system. I mostly depend on protein shakes. Even with living with this disease, I’m not the type of person that gives up. ​That’s one of the reasons I’m involved with Access Living. Access Living is a center of service, advocacy, and social change for people with all kinds of disabilities. I look at the simple