Guest Commentary: Public Transit: Not Just Driving in Circles



On Oct. 14, WorkSource held a “poverty simulation” at Centralia College, illustrating the hurdles faced by those working to overcome poverty. Participants navigated a complex system of real-life situations, tasks and services, while encountering innumerable hardships and unexpected difficulties. The Twin Transit team and other volunteers played supporting roles like Social Services, EBT, the bank, education, employment, daycare and the homeless shelter. There were even police and criminal element roles.

Poverty Simulation participants were tasked with navigating the system while maintaining or achieving employment, assisting assigned “family members,” and making ends meet on a meager budget – all in a set timeframe.

It wasn’t easy.

The most difficult part? For many, it was access to reliable transportation. Although the exercise took place in a single room, participants were required to have a bus pass or other form of transportation to move between services – just like in the real world.

This illustrated what the Twin Transit team sees daily.

Every day countless people depend on public transportation to get to work, so they can support themselves and their families. A healthy public transit system means access to reliable jobs and a path to economic prosperity. There are many ways out of poverty – but transportation is essential to every one.

The same is true for education. Every day students ride public transit to high school and college, where they lay the groundwork for a better, brighter, more economically prosperous future. This matters because higher education levels are directly correlated with higher earning potential, better health, safety and overall life satisfaction. Centralia College and Twin Transit partner to ensure every CC student has access to a bus pass. We know the best way to improve our community is supporting education – and making sure everyone has access. 

Public transit is often the first resource people use to pull themselves out of poverty, overcome addiction, or get help. It’s the lifeline connecting nonprofit and community service organizations with those they serve. After all, it’s hard to get help if you can’t physically get there. In many cases, public transit is both a literal and symbolic safe space.

For those living with physical or mental disabilities, public transit means independence. It’s access to employment, education, and social connection. Public transportation fills a similar roll for senior citizens who are no longer able to drive, keeping them mobile, connected and independent. Others use the bus for economic, convenience or environmental reasons. Transit is an excellent unifier.

On November 18, Twin Transit is revamping service to include expanded Sunday hours. The new schedule will operate Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This new schedule is designed to help more people get where they need to go, Monday through Friday – and all weekend long.

After all, public transit isn’t just buses driving in circles; it’s freedom, access to opportunities, and connection with others. In a word, public transit is possibilities. 

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