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  • Lauren Mikolay

The similarities between public transit and your right to vote.

The importance of public transportation reflects the patriotic spirit of this month.

Just like the freedom to vote, Americans have the freedom to move around our great

country. [1]

For public transportation, freedom means access — to jobs, school, healthcare and

much more.

But, what really is public transportation? Some Americans go their entire lives without

using transit, while some rely on it every single day.

Varieties of public transportation:

● Buses (city, connectors, coaches)

● Trains/Trams (light rail, passenger, high-speed)

● Community transport (paratransit)

● Active transportation (biking/walking)

● Ferries

● Rideshare/Van Pools

For those who don’t take public transportation, it can be difficult to imagine how much

others rely on it. In fact, 45% of Americans don’t have access to public transportation,

according to the American Public Transportation Association. [2] Below are a few

examples displaying the importance of providing these options to all Americans.

Access to Jobs

As an example, let’s say American A lives in a small village within walking distance to a

grocery store and a doctor’s office. A job opportunity becomes available downtown, and

American A goes to the interview and rocks it.

American B lives in a town within driving distance of a grocery store with a hospital

nearby. The same job opportunity becomes available downtown, and American B goes

to the interview and rocks it.

More similarities include strong resumes, lots of experience, and fantastic references.

On top of that, neither owns a car. American A utilized the local Park & Ride bus to get

downtown, and American B rode light rail into the city.

Both individuals had time to prepare while riding public transit downtown and arrived early.

Similar to driving an automobile, they had to plan what time to leave and dress

appropriately for the weather.

If these options weren’t available to these individuals, they’d be forced to take a car into

the city or apply for a job closer to home which might also mean making less money. Whether they ask an acquaintance for a ride, rent a car or borrow a car — these are extra steps they’d go out of their way to take. These options are weighed by millions of Americans every day. In 2019, Americans took 9.9 billion trips on public transportation. In 2020, those who cannot work from home still rely on this service.

In Lorain County, there are over 307,000 residents, and pre Covid-19 there were over 50,000 residents that made the drive into Cuyahoga County every day for work. Some of these people drive to a Cleveland RTA Park-and-Ride to take transit into work because at this time there is no transit that crosses County borders on a regular basis.

Access to School

Of all riders in the United States, 71% are employed and 7% are students. Locally, many

students depend on the services provided by public transportation.

On December 8, 2014, the Cleveland RTA debuted the Cleveland State busing line. [3]

Buses specially designed with the CSU brand connected the campus to the West Shore

of the city near Lakewood, Bay Village, Westlake, and more. In August of the next year,

RTA reported that ridership along that line was up 28%. [4] Students felt enough to

utilize the service to connect them with their educational needs.

Prior to 2009, there were over 1,000 students that used the Lorain County Transit to get to Lorain County Community College classes. As a result of the lack of funding from the state and failure to pass several attempts to support local transit, the Lorain County Commissioners had to make the tough deciion to reduce this transit service. Some students still use it to get to classes but the bus only arrives every 2 hours between 8 am and 6 pm. The few students that continue to use LCT are grateful for public transportation.

Access to Healthcare

Each year, 3.6 million people in the United States do not obtain medical care due to

transportation issues, according to the American Hospital Association. [5]

As healthcare becomes more important to the aging American population, so have

barriers. They can lead to missed appointments, delayed care, or impacted medication

use. It’s also used for the growth of the population, as many women must utilize these

services to attend the many routine prenatal visits required by their doctors.

To maintain the health of the community and the country as a whole, it takes a

collective effort to fill the transportation gaps for all Americans in need.

If you are interested in being a part of these collaborative transportation efforts, we

encourage you to take the 2020 Lorain County Transportation Needs Survey. This will

assist us with promoting current transportation services, identify unmet needs, and lay

the foundation to create transportation pilot projects that can lead to long term solutions.

If you have any questions, you can reach out to Sharon Pearson, Lorain County Mobility

Manager at 440-707-6477 or email at

[1] Freedom of movement in the United States has been judicially recognized as a

fundamental Constitutional right.

[2] American Public Transportation Association:


[3] Cleveland State:




[4] Cleveland RTA:

[5] American Hospital Association:


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1 Comment

Nov 02, 2020

Great article! I look forward to more from Lauren.

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