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: Jacquelin Alcala

(She/Her) | Los Angeles, CA I am a first-generation college student and attending Los Angeles Pierce College for the past three years, soon to be attending Cal State University Northridge, both being heavily commuter schools. Before that, my whole life I’ve been taking public transit. It has been a very integral part of my life.  Recently, through LA’s California Promise program, I’ve had the fee for my U-Pass waived for the past two years and that’s been a huge help to me economically and financially. The U-Pass allowed me to take the subway, METRO bus, and local bus unlimitedly and it’s taken the weight off in terms of cost. As I said then, public transit has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember and I will continue using it for the foreseeable future. If I’m moving tomorrow and I’m not sure if I will stay there long, then I think that public transportation is the best way to get around in a city. I feel like anywhere that I visit I always make use of public transportation. In the summer of 2019, I received a scholarship through Los Angeles Pierce College to visit Paris

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Transit Stories: Jackie Williams

My name is Jackie. I’m in my 60s, and I use transit everyday to get to work, attend meetings, do my grocery shopping, and to visit friends and family. I wasn’t always dependent on transit, but once I made that switch, I noticed all the barriers that exist for where I can go. I live in West Philadelphia, where there’s plenty of transit, but once I go outside of this bubble, it takes me a long time to get to most places. If I have to go to Northeast Philly, or South Philly, it can be a very long journey. I soon realized that I had really limited myself to where it was easy to get on and off public transportation. So there are a lot of places that I don’t go to simply because it would take too long to get there. These areas have a transit line, but not enough service, so you probably won’t get there in time, if at all. I work with a small non-profit as their Director of Operations. If there was a community meeting I wanted to go to, I would do my best to go. But for many meetings, when I know transit

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Transit Stories: Grace Kalmus

Brooklyn, NY I’m Grace, I work at Home Depot and I use public transit to travel to Hempstead Bay in Long Island from Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. Before the pandemic, the trip to get to work took me roughly three hours, two trains and a bus. By sticking to the bus and subway, I would get transfers and keep my fare affordable.  Although the Long Island Rail Road is a much faster and affordable option, the cost would be too expensive for me since the fare is nearly three times the regular bus and subway fare.  For years I’ve had the opening shift at Home Depot, and leave my house at 3:00 am to get to work by 5:30 am. It’s a long and arduous trip that became even more cumbersome at the beginning of the pandemic when Governor Cuomo decided to end overnight service from 1:00 am to 5:00 am.  This decision has cost me extra hours and money to get to work. Since the overnight closures, I’ve had to take a $25 cab to get me from Sheepshead Bay to Atlantic Terminal to then pay for the Long Island Railroad to then pay for a bus in Long

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Transit Stories: Freda Tepfer

(She/Her) | Erie, PA My name is Freda Tepfer. I live in Erie. Growing up in New York City, public transit was my ticket to a world of possibility. I saw sites and met people I wouldn’t have crossed paths with if it wasn’t for transit. These people and places taught me lessons that I carry with me. As I write this today at 71years old, I believe now more than ever that funding for public transit is a necessity if we are to have a reasonable transit system in Erie County, Pennsylvania or anywhere in our country.  I’m retired now, but I spent a good part of my life working across the country helping people who are blind or visually impaired as a certified orientation and mobility specialist. Part of my job was to help connect people to public transit, and answer questions that came up as they used it. The people I worked with are truly amazing. They may not be able to see or drive cars, but they have so much to contribute to society. Although time and time again, what kept them and the rest of the community from doing so was a lack of access

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Transit Stories: Dena Driscoll

(She/Her) | Philadelphia, PA I am the Director of Development and Communications in a nonprofit, civil rights law firm in Philadelphia and mother of two children. Like many mothers in Philadelphia, I have relied on public transit as our main form of transportation. Over the past decade I have relied on public transit to get myself to work, and my children to their various activities including school and doctor’s appointments, and use transit to shop for our family’s needs. My husband and I own a car which he mainly uses to commute over 20 miles every day to work in NE Philadelphia. His job location lacks frequent and reliable public transportation access, especially to accommodate his work schedules which require non-traditional 9-5 hours. As the parent with more flexible job hours, I’ve always been in charge of getting our kids to daycare and then school.  Getting a second car is not doable for us or our family for several reasons but especially financially. Living in a city the cost of car ownership and storage is just a burden we cannot take on.  Transit has been a very central part of our lives. It’s such a vital part of how we

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Transit Stories: Deborah Olson

Gresham, Oregon I am almost 65 and live alone. I have been disabled for thirty-one years, next month. It is an anniversary I would like to forget. I can walk and I am not in a chair or walker yet. Six years ago I was a half-a-block from a good running bus. And with high rents and shabby housing I had to move. That is how I ended up here in Gresham. I live in a senior building 3/8ths of a mile from the only transportation we have, the MAX, which is train service. Some of my neighbors cannot make it to the MAX stop. It is just too far for them to walk. One block is unpaved. It is a lot harder when you’re in your 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. If the MAX is late, so are we. I have waited for fifteen, thirty minutes, and even longer. If I hike another twenty minutes, and have a good day, I can make it to Division Street. There is a small incline to get to the #2 bus. Many times I have watched the bus go by. But usually another Division bus is there in fifteen minutes.I live three

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