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: Cynde Soto

Los Angeles, CA Hi, my name is Cynde and I live in a beach town in Los Angeles County California. Riding transit allows me to live independently in the community, which is what we all want to do, right? My wheelchair will not be able to get into a car or a taxi of any kind, so I rely on public transit. I ride the bus, the light rail and subway. We have quite a few options here in LA County, which is a very good thing. However, the routes don’t always go where I need to go. For instance, I live in a bit of a food desert. So in order for me to go grocery shopping once a week, I need to take at least two buses, and that can be very time-consuming and super frustrating for me. So I have to get to the bus stop, get the ride, then go a couple more blocks actually to the grocery store, so that could take me like half a day. I just think that’s ridiculous. We should have more frequent bus scheduling, or maybe even just more buses period. One possible solution is “microtransit.” Rides are shorter and

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Transit Stories: Chris Chavez

Long Beach, California I was born and raised in Long Beach. Like many children here, I had asthma because the air is so polluted. On many indicators of poor air quality, we’re at the top among cities across the country. Asthma is assumed to be something that just happens, but like other respiratory conditions it’s worsened by air pollution — and the predominant source of pollutants is transportation in the form of cars and trucks. So, good public transit is a health issue. Pre-pandemic, I rode public transit every day into downtown LA, where I work as Deputy Policy Director of the Coalition for Clean Air, and I will get back onto transit again as soon as my office reopens. I also was a daily transit user when I worked at the State Capitol in Sacramento. There’s a light rail station right underneath the office building where I currently work. Transit is both more convenient and more affordable for me, especially with gas prices on the rise again. My job takes me all over the region, to meetings with local officials, state officials in district offices, and down to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. I use public transit

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Transit Stories: Chicago College Students

Sarita Cavazos Chicago, Illinois As a full-time college student, owning a personal vehicle has never been fiscally possible. I rely on public transportation to travel to school, work, and extra curriculars.  I’m an out-of-state college student attending the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), my family is over a thousand miles away and I live alone. Public transportation is how I get everywhere: school, work, doctors’ offices, the airport, the grocery store, and so on. UIC’s school shuttles to and from campus are notoriously unreliable, so students who live off campus have had to employ city buses and trains to get to classes on time.  Grocery stores are at least a 20-minute bus ride for me on a good day with no traffic, but I’ve often had to commute upwards of an hour on the combination of two bus routes, or a train and a bus route to make it to a job.  If funding for the CTA is cut, my ability to reach necessities and connect with my community will be severely impacted and limited.  Public transit is also affordable, and as a college student this is extremely beneficial to me when expenses like loans and tuition quickly pile

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Transit Stories: Carolyn Fowler

Inglewood, California I’m an avid transit rider. Public transit saves me gas, time, and energy. I work as a government affairs advisor for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board District 1. Before the pandemic, I took the bus every day. I either caught the bus on my corner to get downtown or would take the Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit. On the bus, I can be reading, I can be doing my email, I don’t have the stress of sitting in traffic, and I felt I was fresher when I got to work. I am ahead, really, because I read through all my emails before I even got to the office. I work with many low-income students as part of my job with the school district, and transit is a lifesaver for them. I worry that, especially during and after the pandemic, many students will have to choose between getting something to eat and getting on the bus. Federal support for better bus service and for LA Metro’s fareless transit pilot program for students would mean they wouldn’t have to make that choice anymore. For me, too, transit is about both service and cost. With a senior pass, it

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Transit Stories: Carden Wyckoff

(She/Her) | Atlanta, GA Transit equity is an issue I work diligently on with many local advocacy organizations in the Atlanta area and MARTA (directly on their writers’ committee). It is essential to me because of my progressive disability. I started using a wheelchair in my early twenties. Traveling long distances got more and more difficult and using stairs became more challenging. My lens shifted from walking and running, to not being able to do that very well, to then not being able to walk at all and using a wheelchair full time.  I graduated college in 2015, moved back to Atlanta, and started riding MARTA a little bit here and there. I also had a car at the time because I still was able to drive then. I soon stopped driving altogether and shifted full time to riding on the sidewalk in my wheelchair and scooter and then riding buses and trains fully to get around the city. For me, the issue that I see specifically with MARTA is the lack of accessibility. I know the walkability of the city is an Atlanta and surrounding county issue, but that is the core area of being able to get to

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Transit Stories: Brian Colfer

Sterling Heights, Michigan Public transit needs to be improved dramatically here in southeast Michigan. Right now it is not reliable. I am completely blind. I’m going to be getting vocational services and want to work as a receptionist. But if I had a job now, they’d fire because I’d be late all the time. I used to use Suburban Mobility Transit but I don’t anymore because I can’t count on it. I don’t use fixed route buses — I need paratransit. But I found that you’d call, ask for a time to be picked up, and you’d be given a window, but you might not get where you needed to be on time. Once I was going to shadow a receptionist for a volunteer organization. They opened at 8:30, so I was trying to get there at 8:00. But the bus didn’t show up until 9:20. For my vocational assessment coming up, my career counselor arranged for one of the cab companies to pick me up. That’s how I’m getting to my appointments. But I can’t afford cabs on my own. Once I get trained, that’s going to be the sticking point because they train you for the job, but

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