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: Ms. Teaira Collins

Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburghers for Public Transit I lived my whole life in Pittsburgh and have raised five children here. I grew up in my grandmother’s home, and she was a big influence on me. My godfather was Bishop Gamble, who was the pastor of The Covenant Whosoever Will Church of God in Christ. They both taught me that ‘a life in service to others is a life worth living. Being able to hop on a bus and get around town is incredibly important to me. I’ve been catching the bus since I was seven years old. I used to buy a ‘weekend pass’ that only cost $3 at that time. That allowed me to travel all around the city, so I could visit my friends and my extended family.  Nowadays, I use the bus for everything…to go to work, to go to school, and to go with my youngest son, Judah, for his doctor’s appointments. Judah has Down Syndrome. Getting to those appointments are really important for his overall health. I’ve worked at a number of jobs that have ranged from the VA Hospital, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the Pittsburgh Gazette, and McDonalds. I now work in home health care and

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Transit Stories: Martha Escobedo

Los Angeles, CA Bus Rider My name is Martha Escobedo. I’m a mom to two wonderful daughters and work as a caregiver in Los Angeles. I’m involved with a number of non-profit organizations and have been a volunteer with MOVE LA for the past six years. I always tell Eli and Marisa from MOVE LA whenever they need a volunteer, just tell me, and I’ll go.  Right now, for work, I’m assisting my friend’s mom, who has Alzheimer’s. I have been taking care of her for about one year. I work the graveyard shift and am at her house from 7 pm to 11 am. I can get back and forth from my place to hers by riding both the metro and the bus. I really love to walk and take the bus. I had a stroke, which meant I had to stop driving. I rely on the bus every single day to get me around town. Public transit makes a huge difference in my life.  One of the things that I wish Metro would do a better job of is advertising programs that help families get around town. They have a really important program called the LIFE program, which

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Transit Stories: Will Tung

(He/Him) | Philadelphia, PA My name is William Tung or Will, which I usually go by. I live in Southwest Philadelphia in a neighborhood called Kingsessing and it is mostly serviced by trolleys. I have a trolley line that passes a block away from my house and goes straight to Center City.  I occasionally use transit to get to work as a fire lieutenant in Center City. The trolley is especially important on days where the snow is too high in the Winter season. I love the trolley system. I like that I have a way to get to work even in terrible weather in times when the streets are impassable. It’s extremely convenient and one of the big reasons my family and I moved to this neighborhood.  We moved to Philly from Brooklyn, New York. We’re so used to riding the NYC transit system. It’s very robust and will take you anywhere. It has its flaws but the subway goes everywhere and everybody takes it. When we moved to Philadelphia, we wanted a place that had that same ability and feature. We specifically looked at places that were served by transit. We didn’t want to be completely dependent on

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Transit Stories: Tejas Kotak

Atlanta, GA (If this is ever read out loud, quick pronunciation guide for my name. Tejas like the word “advantageous.”) My name is Tejas Kotak and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I have relied on public transportation for over 8 years. I don’t own a car, so when I choose where to live, having reliable bus service nearby is crucial. I am fortunate to be able to work from home, but I still rely on transit to purchase groceries, medical appointments, and visit parks. It is what connects me to my family in the suburbs, and my community around me. In Atlanta, we can’t afford to have more people driving cars, regardless of how efficient or clean they are. Traffic is already one of our biggest issues, and making driving the only option makes it worse, forcing us to dedicate more of our land to roads and parking instead of hospitals, housing, parks, or other uses that benefit society. Owning a car would be a financial burden for me, and a constant safety issue as I often lack depth perception in my vision. For my neighborhood, English Avenue, the case for transit rings deep when it comes to equity and

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Transit Stories: Tatyana Atkinson

Cleveland, OH My name is Tatyana Atkinson, and I am a non-driver. I never learned how to drive. I grew up in Atlanta and Washington DC, where public transportation supported me well enough not to need to learn the skill. Upon moving to Ohio as a student at John Carroll University in 2015, I immediately understood that I had been taking my access to reliable, affordable, and timely public transit for granted. To begin with, the campus is not directly connected to transit. This immediately felt isolating as a student who wanted to not just stay on campus, but be an actual part of Cleveland’s communities. As a working student paying my way through school, I got a job interviewing transit riders in Cleveland through the Ohio Student Association where hundreds of community members responded that a lack of service on top of rising fares were their biggest concerns as riders. As a Black woman, I want to support other Black women in my community, and public transportation was not only lacking for me, but Black mothers, students, and workers who had been living here much longer than I have. I found out that in the decade prior to my

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Transit Stories: Stacey Randecker

San Francisco, CA In the Bay Area, any loss of transit service threatens to upend my life, and my family’s life. I commute on Caltrain and my two teenage children ride San Francisco (SFMTA) buses to school. Without a stable source of guaranteed funding, I know both services are always at risk, and will never be used to their maximum potential. My last job was with a company in Milpitas – a nearly two hour one-way trip using Caltrain and my bicycle from San Francisco to Silicon Valley. After a corporate lay-off, my ability to re-enter the labor force was threatened—first by the pandemic, now by Caltrain service. If Caltrain were to ever reduce operations, I would be unable to accept a job in Silicon Valley without buying a car. I’m unwilling to take that step, both because of the personal expense and the cost to our environment in carbon emissions.  With two kids in high school who participate in afterschool activities across the city, the city’s bus system has become a lifeline for our family. SFMTA has been absolutely vital to avoiding the expense of a car, and for my kids to participate in activities that are important to

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