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.
Atlanta, GA I am the CEO and Founder of House Of Ramirez. I am a mother of three, and I use transit for everything I do. I rely on the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s (MARTA) bus and train service to get around the city and the suburban areas. As such, being connected to different neighborhoods is important to me. From a very young age, public transportation has played a major role in my life. When I was 16 years old and in high school, I was out on my own and employed at a local mall. My school bus did not take me all the way to my job, so I would get off on the main street, walk to the opposite side, and get on a public bus. If I were to miss the connection from my school bus to public transportation for any reason, my job and livelihood would be in danger, and I would suffer. Even a slight delay leaving my high school could delay my route to work. Fortunately, my job understood my predicament and as a result, I was never fired for being tardy due to issues with transit. But I am very much
Cleveland, Ohio My name is La Queta Worley-Bell. I live in Cleveland, Ohio and I have been taking public transit all my life. It takes me an hour to get from my house to downtown, which is where I do my shopping, pay my bills, and pick up my medication. When train service was cut during the pandemic, made worse by lack of infrastructure maintenance, it made clear to me how much more support public transit needs to keep operating into the future. If public transit was cut any further, I would have to walk at least 6 to 8 blocks to catch the #11 bus to get downtown. This could add at least an hour to my commute given my severe mobility issues. I do not drive, and I depend on transit to live my daily life. My partner takes transit to his factory job in the suburbs. He has to wake up at 3:00 am so that he can leave the house at 5:00 am, because his commute to Independence, Ohio takes at least two hours. When we talk about creating jobs in America, we also need to make sure people can access them through fast and reliable
Tacoma, Washington I live in a redlined community. People may know about redlining, racism, and housing segregation. But it affects what’s available to entire communities. I live in an apartment complex in a neighborhood that’s purposely structured so that you’re not going to find a school or supermarket or church or other essential services within walking distance — the kinds of things you find in close proximity in a rich, white neighborhood. There are four wheelchair users in my apartment complex, including me — all people of color. The nearest supermarket is a Grocery Outlet more than a mile away. I had to fight for four curb cuts along the way in order to be able to get there. In a redlined community, good public transit is especially important. And, when I think about public transportation, I think about bus routes. Are they meeting our needs? As the chair of the Tacoma Area Commission on Disabilities, I also want to know if wheelchair users like me can ride the buses when we need to. I live right at the border of south Tacoma and University Place. On my side of the street, there’s sidewalk and a crosswalk. On the other
New York City, NY My name is Kim Yancey, I’m 45, and I’m a licensed social worker living in East Harlem near the 125th St 4/5/6 subway station. I have a disability and access the subway system using a power wheelchair. Having lost my job shortly before the pandemic, my efforts to reenter the workforce were complicated by the pandemic and the unreliability of elevators at subway stations. Here’s an example – my old commute to work at Park Avenue and 20th Street would take 36 minutes if all station elevators were operational; if not, the length of my trip could stretch to 1.5 hours or more because of the diversions I need to make, and it can cost me three times more in transit fares to get home. Even if the elevators are working, passenger overcrowding – even during COVID-19 – can mean that reaching the street level from the train platform could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour because it takes two elevators to exit Given that I have worked in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, I’ve encountered broken elevators across the city. It was constant. Multiple times a week, multiple times a day. Sometimes it’s
(He/Him) | Glandale, CA My name is Kenny Uong. I’m an Urban Studies and Planning student attending Cal State Northridge in Los Angeles. I grew up in a household that relied on public transit to get around. We would take transit to go get groceries in Chinatown, to go to the shopping centers, and mostly around the cities of Glendale, Burbank and Los Angeles. When I was around five, I started collecting maps and timetables on board the buses. By the age of ten, I’ve memorized the entire system by heart. Transit was a huge part of my life growing up and I still continue to use transit to this day. My decision to continue using transit is primarily because of family influence. We are able to access our necessities and get around the area with public transportation, so why get a car? We really enjoy taking transit because we don’t have to worry about driving. We don’t have to worry about gas prices, insurance, and all the other costs associated with owning a car. Once you know which route goes where as well as the schedules, it’s simple to navigate the transit system. LA Metro’s usual fare is one-dollar-seventy-five
(She/Her) | Cleveland, OH I moved to Cleveland 16 years ago, from a small town in Ohio where there is no public transit. As a person living with a mobility disability, Cleveland’s public transit system gave me a newfound freedom. I am able to commute to my full-time job at Downtown Cleveland Alliance in downtown Cleveland from where I live in Shaker Heights. It takes 20 minutes on the Green or Blue light rail lines, plus a ten-minute journey in my motorized wheelchair. Transit is also my primary way to access entertainment at the nearby art museum and botanical garden, using the #48 bus to get there. I also rely on it for life’s necessities, such as making it to my doctor’s appointments or going grocery shopping. Without better transit service, I might be forced to move back to my family home and end up relying on governmental assistance. Without transit, I wouldn’t be able to go essentially anywhere independently and my life would be completely different. I don’t qualify for certain independent accessible transportation options. Ride-sharing services do not have accessible vehicles, and their services are too expensive. I might be forced to learn to drive an accessible vehicle,