Transit systems play an important role in connecting individuals who lack access to personal vehicles or the ability to drive to employment, healthcare, and recreational opportunities. Access to reliable transit systems is deeply personal to me. One of my earliest memories was running with my mother (more like my mother dragging me) at a Milwaukee, Wisconsin intersection to catch the bus. Nestled at the intersection of Capitol Drive and Atkinson Avenue, almost in front of our house, this bus stop became my gateway to a world of enrichment. The ease of access it provided enabled me to explore libraries, view art at the local museum, attend the Wisconsin State Fair, discover the beauty of the botanical gardens, and visit the Milwaukee Zoo. These experiences, facilitated by transit, expanded my horizons in ways that many of the kids in my neighborhood were not exposed to.
During my childhood, I found joy in playing with toy cars: orchestrating their paths and envisioning intricate transit systems. These games ignited a lifelong passion for designing transportation networks. As I grew older, this matured into a deep interest in transit systems and their power to connect communities. I channeled this passion into my education and experience in transportation engineering. Just as I meticulously arranged toy car routes, I now intricately plan transit routes, considering intersections and efficiencies.
The power of transit extends beyond just transportation; it is a catalyst for equality and equity in society. My journey is a testament to the transformative impact of transit in our communities. The opportunities it unlocked provided me with a broader understanding of the world. Unfortunately, those without access to such transportation often face limited exposure, which often leads to negative life outcomes.
Shifting the narrative around transit is essential. Rather than perceiving it as a financial burden, we should recognize it as an investment in the community’s future. Transit infrastructure, when well-planned and efficient, yields many benefits. The empowerment it provides contributes to a connected, healthy, and productive workforce. In the long term, this can be measured by increased economic activity, improved quality of life, and a stronger sense of unity among the community’s diverse residents. My personal experience with transit, beginning with those early bus rides in Milwaukee, is just one example of the power of transit!