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: 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


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


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


Transit Stories: Sonny Williams

Cincinnati, OH I’m a 73-year-old disabled veteran with PTSD. After spending some time in different places around the country, I came back to Cincinnati. I use the Metro, our bus system, to get to my VA appointments, the grocery store, and the bank. I move around with a cane.  Even with the pandemic, I’ve never stopped riding the bus. I’ll be riding one today. That’s the only way I can get around. I don’t drive. If it’s raining or snowing, or if there’s a storm, I take the bus even though I might have to stand in the rain. It’s a lifeline for where I need to go.  We need public transit to be affordable for everyone. In Cincinnati last year we voted for taxes to run the Metro, and they’re still raising the fares. The fares are going from $1.75 to $2.00, saying it’s easier for people to pull $2.00 out of their pocket than $1.75, which is ridiculous. The cost of a fare card for an elderly person is going up $5.00 a month. Rather than raising costs, we should keep fares down so everyone can take public transit as they need. When I got out of the


Transit Stories: Sohna Jeanty

(She/Her) | Atlanta, Georgia I’m originally from DC. When I moved to Georgia, I had a car. I soon gave up the car because driving in the city was a bit much. Public transit was my other option, but the transit system took some getting used to. I’ve had good experiences and not-so-good ones. The train system here in Atlanta is different than in DC. I will say that I do like how I only had to pay a flat rate to board the bus versus how I paid DC rates depending on peak times and zones. I don’t like how some of the systems connect, don’t connect, how difficult it is to transfer, and overall how that works. The organization MARTA Army has its way of helping people get acclimated with transit and it made my transition into using public transit down here a lot smoother. But, it takes a while to understand the system and I wish there was something done by the transit agency.  I moved to the city because I needed to have accessibility. Transit provided me that. I enjoy it. I prefer to take the bus to certain places versus waiting on an Uber. I


Transit Stories: Shalese Ford

Boston, Massachusetts I grew up in Boston but went to college in Ohio, and when I went to Cleveland or Columbus I could see how broken their transit was. Anything I said about MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), it was like, I take it all back.  But there’s still plenty to improve here. I’d majored in environmental studies and thought maybe I could get a job with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) or an environmental non-profit. But this was 2009, and the job market was absolute shit. So, I took a job as a dog grooming assistant at a Petco in Dedham. My family had a car but they used it for their own needs. I didn’t make a lot of money and used transit. A lot of what I earned went to transportation, just refilling the cards. And, because I was taking a bus, a train, and another bus, I spent a lot of time traveling.  Sometimes I’d have to close out the grooming section and, depending on when I was getting out, I’d be getting one of the last buses. I had a 15- to 20-minute walk to the bus stop, and if I didn’t time it just