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: Dawna Bell

Portland, Oregon My name is Dawna Bell, and my parents live two hours away in West Olympia, Washington. None of us considered what it would be like to live out of town without access to a bus line as they aged. My parents are close to 90 and of a generation defined by their independence. It is difficult for my Mom to ask for help because she doesn’t want to impose on anyone, including me.   Like many, my parents moved out of the city to the suburbs because it was peaceful and quiet. Initially, it was fine; it was only fifteen minutes into town to go grocery shopping, concerts, medical appointments, and to see friends.  My mom was never a confident driver, but she did drive, but gave it up as she aged. Dad always did the majority of the driving and Mom still depends on him to get around.  Recently my dad has had some issues with dementia, and although he is slowing down, he remains Mom’s primary source of transportation.  The bus operates in town but does not go to my parent’s suburban neighborhood at the edge of town. My mom says my dad is fine driving. I


Transit Tuesday: Ken Miguel-Cipriano

Grand Rapids, MI: Transportation Riders United I have lived in Grand Rapids since 1990 when my family moved here from Peru.  Public transit is how my parents got around in Peru and how we got from place to place when we moved to Michigan.  In fact, my dad still bikes, walks, and takes the bus.  When you are poor and an immigrant, that’s how you travel. My dad taught me to walk the city, ride a bike, and take the bus, so I could be ready for any scenario. I went to the University of Michigan with the expectation that I would be a doctor or lawyer, but I learned there are lots of other fulfilling and well-paying careers that use critical thinking skills and allow me to serve my community like being a Project Manager. I never bought a car because at first, I couldn’t afford it and still maintain the lifestyle that I wanted. When I finally was able to afford a car it all felt a bit like a scam – a loan for the vehicle, another bill for insurance, weekly purchases of gas, and regular maintenance fees. Owning a car is often the second biggest line


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,


Transit Tuesday: Loreen Theveny

Santa Rosa, CA – Genesis, A Gamaliel Affiliate of the Bay Area I was born in Southern California but have been living in the Bay area since I was nine years old. I was raised by a single mom. She worked as a secretary, and we didn’t have a lot of money.  Because my mom was always working to support our family, I learned to be independent at an early age. I started riding the bus and BART at the age of 10.  When I was a teenager, we lived in Pacifica, but a lot of my friends were in San Francisco. Since the transit system wasn’t very good in Pacifica, I would walk 5 miles to go to Daly City to catch the BART. I didn’t have that much money. I would only leave the house with a quarter. At that time, you had to pay twice for the two separate transit systems in Pacifica and San Fran and there was no transfer option available. So, I had to save my money for the BART and walk. Even with that, I loved the freedom BART gave me as a teenager. When I was 32, I went to school and got


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