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 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 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

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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

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Transit Stories: Barbara Manson

Bike Durhman – Durham, North Carolina I want to tell you about my brother Bradlee. We grew up together in Dallas, Texas, where he was the oldest of my five siblings. He attended trade school, worked for the State of Texas for many years before retiring recently. He was once given an award by the City of Dallas for his work volunteering with disabled children. My brother is disabled and has been since birth. Despite this, Bradlee has always been determined to carve his own path in the world, and he couldn’t have done it without public transportation. Because my brother can’t drive, he would take the bus to school and to the jobs he’s held over the years. Taking the bus didn’t just give him a chance to earn a paycheck, it also gave him a bit of independence. Many of us who aren’t disabled may take it for granted, but I can’t overstate the value of being able to go out into the world on your own, befriend people, and build an identity for yourself. None of that would have been possible for my brother if it weren’t for public transportation. Six years ago, I moved to North

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Transit Stories: Abby Griffith

Portland, Oregon: OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon I was born in Ethiopia. I moved to the US in 2008 when I was 14 years old. I am blind and was adopted by a family that lives in Richfield, Washington, a very rural area. In Richfield, where I grew up, there is no way to get around without owning a private car. After graduating from high school, I moved to Vancouver to go to Washington State University. My apartment was an eighteen-minute drive from campus, but it took me two and a half hours to three hours each way to take the bus. For a 9 am class, I had to get up at 4 am and leave for the bus at 5 am to arrive on time. The commute was exhausting and took way too much of my time. Distracting from important aspects of life like building a social life. This experience made me a transit advocate for the Vancouver and Portland area. I currently live in Vancouver and travel by bus and train to work in Portland. I am a Bus Riders United organizer at OPAL, Environmental Justice Oregon. We work with transit-dependent individuals, including elderly people, youth, and disabled

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Transit Stories: Karen Mack

Los Angeles, CA: Move LA I am a native Los Angelino and grew up in Compton. I was a lifeguard when I was in my teens in Watts. Spending time in the Watts neighborhood really had an impact on me in terms of my social justice learning and has guided my journey into community work. I’ve worked for several start-up nonprofits that are focused on issues that impact our community which led me to my role as the founding director of LA Commons. LA Commons is an arts and culture-based organization that also provides a civic space for families in the area to meet, learn, and grow together.   Like a lot of Angelenos, I’ve had a relationship with a car. I remember going to the DMV on my 16th birthday to get my license. Many consider that a rite of passage into adulthood in Los Angeles. My parents had the means to own a car, so I rarely interacted with public transportation when I was growing up. I’m environmentally conscious, so I decided to lease a plug-in hybrid for three years. However, the car had issues at the very beginning (so bad that the manufacturer compensated me $5,000) and again

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Transit Stories: Jenelle Harriff

Rochester, NY: Reconnect Rochester I grew up in Webster, just outside Rochester, and started riding the bus when I was sixteen. My first job was as an intern at the Board of Elections, and I later attended Monroe Community College (MCC) downtown and in Henrietta. I lived in the Neighborhood of the Arts, so I always took the bus around town. I went to my first year of college in NYC and was very independent because of the subways, buses, and ferries. That really empowered me as a disabled person. I have one good eye due to childhood cancer, but I have bad depth-perception, so transit is a safer option for me.   I came back home in 2001 but trying to get around was an adjustment for me, especially after experiencing all of those years of independence and frequent transit service in NYC and Philadelphia. In 2012, I moved to the North Winton Village neighborhood which was serviced by RTS Routes #8, #9, #10, and previously, the #48.   I was recently job hunting for months and had to eliminate several employers out on Bailey or W. Henrietta Roads because there was no bus service and the OnDemand service does not

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