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: Dane Lauritzen

Alexandria, VA – Coalition for Smarter Growth I grew up in a military family in various places including Heidelberg, Germany and Salt Lake City, UT, and then I went to college in Albuquerque, NM.  In 2016, I moved to Virginia to work as an attorney for the VA. In Albuquerque, I took transit, but it was very limited, so I’d bike to school half the time.  I would have been much happier being able to take a bus instead of worrying about the spikes from goat head plants puncturing my ties.  The problem was that there were only 1 or 2 lines that run regularly, and the rest might only come 1 or 2 times a day.   When I first moved to Virginia, I had a car but got frustrated having to navigate the frequently terrible DC traffic.  When I was looking to buy a house, I had to choose.  I could either buy a place farther away from my job and own a car or save over $1000 a month and buy a place that was super convenient to my job, good restaurants, and other activities.  I decided to sell my car and chose to buy a place that


Transit Stories: Paul Ryan Villanueva

Seattle, Washington I was born in the Philippines. I grew up in Egypt and then moved to Pennsylvania, then NYC, and finally, I moved to Auburn, Washington, when I was 16 to finish high school. Auburn is 30 minutes south of Seattle. When I moved to Auburn, I lived with my aunt and cousins. They were busy, and I could not depend on them for rides, so I began using public transportation. We lived on the top of a big hill, and I had to take the bus in order for me to see my friends or attend an event. In Auburn, public transportation was limited. There were only two buses that came into my neighborhood, and they ran every 30 minutes; service ended at 10:30 p.m. and didn’t run on Sundays. There is much better service in Seattle, where most buses run until 3 a.m. and often run every 10 to 15 minutes. That means that I can get around easily. When I was an undergrad at the University of Washington, I used to study until 3 a.m. and take the bus home to where I was living. But transit isn’t perfect in Seattle. When commuting to campus in


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


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


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


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