(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 per ride but they are currently not collecting fares until January 2022 because of the pandemic. In fact, it would be great if it became a fare-free system!
I have relatives that always say, “We see you get around using public transit a lot and the wait times are probably as long as the commute time. Why not consider purchasing a car?” Our response is that as long as it takes us where we need to go at any time of day with the information that we know, like the routes and the times, it will always be our preferred form of transportation. Again, we don’t have to worry about the costs associated with owning a car. On top of that, taking public transit allows us to enjoy the views during the ride while creating a form of community that is lost when everyone becomes a single driver. There’s an environmental aspect to this as well. It greatly reduces my carbon footprint and provides me with an opportunity to take climate action at a personal level.
“Transit Stories” is a series of real-life experiences with public transit in the U.S. Every Tuesday, we will feature the first-hand experience of public transit riders from across the country in this short newsletter. 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. This story and all the others will be archived at transitjustice.org. For media inquiries, contact Doug Gordon, firstname.lastname@example.org.