Passenger Transport March 2021 Vol 79 No 6 - 2
C O M M E N TA R Y
BY CARRIE BUTLER
Transit Authority of River City (TARC)
The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis
VOLUME 79, NUMBER 6
Committing to Those Who've
Come Before Us, and Setting
The Stage for Those to Come
I didn't want to write this article. Not for expected reasons: too busy with
a new job, everything feels like too much with COVID around, too much
on my plate. It was the topic. Women's History. For a public transportation
HAT ON EARTH COULD I TALK ABOUT
on that subject? I do identify as a woman,
and I think I am familiar with history generally,
and I have lots to say on assorted topics; but
about Women's History? This topic, shamefully, I doubt I
could get through a round of Jeopardy. You, as the reader,
may be asking, why should I keep reading? I thought about
changing gears and using a dramatic 'click bait' title like
'Claudette Colvin was the real Rosa Parks.' 'Top Five things
you never knew about Women's History but thought you
did' or 'Doctors say this one thing about Women's History
will cure your belly bloat.'
I reconsidered and thought candor and honesty would
be best. In this moment, and countless moments of reflection that the unprecedented times 2020-2021 have brought
upon us, I have had to use every single method I know of to
make it through-sometimes just to make it through a day.
What I found I was most grateful for was the simple act of
being grateful, which brings me back to Women's History.
I have felt a more profound sense of appreciation for
what and who came before me. I would not be where I am
without a long list of family, friends, babysitters, teachers,
coaches, managers, bosses, colleagues, clients, salesclerks, flight attendants, servers, nurses, doctors, drivers-
too many to name, but all of whom played some small or
large role in my present status. And for that, I am grateful.
Truly, deeply grateful.
But what about all the people-women-who I don't
know personally or who came well before me or my time?
I feel fortunate to have been working in the past 20 years.
By the time I entered the professional workforce, there were
female heads of the Department of Transportation (Elaine
Chao), Federal Railroad Administration (Jolene M
and Federal Transit Administration (Nuria Fernandez;
twice!). There may not have been a ton of women in any
room where I worked, but I wasn't the only one.
Someone is always first. Someone starts out being the
only one. There have been plenty of times when someone
is the ONLY one of anything in a room or the first of one in
some situation. I commend every single person who had
the guts, grit and grace to take a seat at the table, behind
the wheel or in a railcar and change the course for everyone that comes after. I hope everyone reading can share my
gratitude, even if your first hasn't arrived yet, or your first
came eons ago.
In thinking of firsts, there are a few names I would like to
recognize, specific to transportation. First up, Mary Fields
or StageCoach Mary, circa 1832-1914, who drove a stagecoach across the growing United States. Susan Morningstar is the first woman on record employed by a railroad,
around 1855. Wilma Russey, in 1915, was the first taxi
driver and an expert garage mechanic. Mary Wallace may
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Jeffrey A. Nelson, Chair
Matthew O. Tucker, Vice Chair
Freddie C. Fuller II, Secretary-Treasurer
not have been the absolute first female bus driver, but she
was the first in Chicago; and Christine Gonzalez Aldeis was
the first woman to work on the railroad as an engineer. Carmen Turner was the first black female to lead a large transit
Countless others shared firsts in cities large and small,
and even if their names may have been forgotten, I choose
to remember them now and give my thanks and gratitude
for their work and their ambition. But not all of us will ever
be recognized for our work or succeed fully in all of our
ambitions. So, I consider the many women who use public
transportation-the majority of riders in many cities who are
working every day to get to school, to jobs, to daycare, to
stores, to go on a date, to see a concert (once we're rid of
this virus)-and I wonder, are we doing enough to recognize
their needs along with the next generation of firsts? I ask
what I can do, and perhaps what can we all do to honor and
work for those that came before us, those that we serve
now, and help set the stage for those that come after us.
I commit to listening without judgment or doling out
advice on what someone's experience is and hearing that it
may be markedly different than my experience.
I commit to fully understanding what it means to rely
entirely on public transportation.
I commit to improving public transportation, so it is a
non-issue whether you own or drive a car versus whether
you take transit.
I think those that came before me would want us all to
commit to this, too.
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Someone is always first.
Someone starts out being the
only one. There have been
plenty of times when someone
is the ONLY one of anything in a
room or the first of one in some
situation. I commend every
single person who had the guts,
grit and grace to take a seat at
the table, behind the wheel or in
a railcar and change the course
for everyone that comes after.
Published bi-weekly by the American Public Transportation
Association, 1300 I St., NW, Suite 1200 East, Washington, DC
20005; (202) 496-4800; Fax (202) 496-4321; www.apta.com
David M. Stackrow Sr., Immediate Past Chair
Executive Committee Members
Dorval R. Carter Jr., Chicago Transit Authority
Francis " Buddy " Coleman, Clever Devices Ltd.
Michael Goldman, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Kevin J. Holzendorf, Jacksonville Transportation Authority
Board of Directors
Karen H. King, Golden Empire Transit District
Michele Wong Krause, Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Jeanne Krieg, Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority
Thomas C. Lambert, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County
Adelee Marie Le Grand, Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority
Richard J. Leary, Toronto Transit Commission
Henry Li, Sacramento Regional Transit District
Raymond J. Melleady, USSC Group
Brad Miller, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority
Allan Pollock, Salem-Keizer Transit
Leanne P. Redden, Regional Transportation Authority
Catherine Rinaldi, MTA Metro-North Railroad
William T. Thomsen, Urban Engineers
Doug Tisdale, Regional Transportation District, Denver
Thomas Waldron, HDR
Eve Williams, Dikita Engineering
President and CEO
Paul P. Skoutelas
Pamela L. Boswell, Vice President-Workforce Development and
David Carol, Chief Operating Officer
T.J. Doyle, Vice President-Communications and Marketing
Linda C. Ford, General Counsel
Christina Garneski, Vice President-Meetings and Membership
Arthur Guzzetti, Vice President-Mobility Initiatives
and Public Policy
John S. Henry, Chief Financial Officer
Kym L. Hill, Vice President-Executive Office & Corporate Secretary
Shelley Taggart Kee, Vice President-Human Resources &
Ward W. McCarragher, Vice President-Government Affairs and
Petra Mollet, Vice President-Strategic and International Programs
Passenger Transport March 2021 Vol 79 No 6
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport March 2021 Vol 79 No 6
Passenger Transport March 2021 Vol 79 No 6 - 1
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