Hawa & Others Empowered by Transportation Options

Hawa & Others Empowered by Transportation Options

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By Pamela Moore, Program Director

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Hawa, a participant in TLC’s Transportation Options program, (R) riding the light rail with Program Director Pam Moore (L).

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Hawa, a Transportation Options program participant, recently accepted a new job. She went from commuting to Richfield by car to commuting from Saint Paul to downtown Minneapolis via transit. She was referred to the Transportation Options program at Transit for Livable Communities for a variety of reasons:

  1. To reduce driving expenses (e.g. gas and parking downtown)
  2. To learn how to commute via transit
  3. To reduce stress related to driving

Hawa has been working with a financial coach at Prepare + Prosper, a Transportation Options program partner, to stabilize her household budget. With that goal in mind, Hawa was motivated to try to reduce her driving costs. Especially after a recent car crash, she was very interested in driving less. Initially, she also felt nervous about using transit. Through our program, TLC worked with Hawa to assess her transportation needs and develop an action plan that would prepare her for a transit commute from her home to her new job.

As a new transit user, Hawa recognized she was dressed for movement between a warm building and her vehicle but not for standing on bus stops and light rail platforms. She now dresses appropriately for the cold days ahead. She also has learned how to plan a transit trip, and reload her Go-To card.

Now that Hawa is acclimated with her new route, she feels confident in her choice. In addition to the financial savings, Hawa reflects on her shift in modes by noting, “After being injured in an accident, being on the bus feels safe and I don’t have to be concerned with the behavior of other drivers around me.” Stress reduction is key to her recovery and she now believes “riding the bus is so peaceful.”

Hawa’s experience is a strong reminder of just how empowering and transformative access to good multimodal options can be. In the past year, TLC has been proud to help her and many other Transportation Options program participants overcome transportation challenges. Everyone has their own unique story:

• Marie was an isolated single mother struggling with three small children, a language barrier, unemployment, and limited education. Through TLC’s Transportation Options program, she got a stroller and good footwear and learned to use transit. She walked to school for ESL classes and now uses transit to get to her job.

• Amos is making ends meet by walking to work in the morning and then taking transit across the Twin Cities to get to his second job.

• Darren was able accept a new job opportunity by combining bus and bike for his commute to the suburbs.

• Shalonnie drove everywhere, even the four blocks to drop her teenager off at school, until she picked up bicycling for the first time in decades. Now mom and son both get around on two wheels.

• Joe was walking forty-five minutes to work every day and now bicycles for fifteen. His new bike commute gives him more time to play with his son after work.

Hawa, Marie, Amos, Darren, Shalonnie, Joe, and the other community members we work with are all motivated to try new, multimodal ways of getting around. And they motivate us to keep working for change at all levels to ensure more families and communities can benefit from transit, bicycling, walking, bike sharing, and car sharing options.

To learn more about TLC’s work to address transportation as a basic need, empowering low-income Minnesotans to lower their costs and expand their access to education and jobs, visit our Transportation Options page.