May 21, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Community thanks LTD drivers, the ‘essential worker for the essential workers’

7 min read
Sen. James Manning speaks in support of bus drivers at Eugene Station on Nov. 9 (Video courtesy BEST).

Sen. James Manning speaks in support of bus drivers at Eugene Station on Nov. 9 (Video courtesy BEST).

BEST, Better Eugene Springfield Transportation, honored LTD drivers.

[00:00:07] BEST Executive Director Rob Zako: Welcome everyone. I am Rob Zako, and I’m really excited to be here today. One: transit’s critical to our community., Two: the pandemic’s been really hard on all of us, especially frontline workers, like bus drivers, especially bus drivers. And three: We’re here today to thank our bus drivers (applause) Bill (Bradley), why don’t you come on up.

[00:00:31] This is from Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle: ‘Thank you to the LTD drivers who kept our communities moving through the last two years. You put yourself at risk long before there were vaccines and I know you’ve had to deal with more anger and irrational threats than anyone should have to deal with at a time when we should all be working together to keep each other safe. I appreciate all of you and everything you do to make Lane County work. From Val Hoyle.’ Thank you. And I’m going to turn it over to my friend, Bill Bradley.

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[00:01:00] Bill Bradley: Ron came up to me, he had a spark of an idea. He goes, Hey, I really want to show our appreciation for the bus operators. they’ve been going through a tough two years.

[00:01:07] You know, we saw during the pandemic in the early days when we were all supposed to stay at home, ridership plummeted. The streets were empty. The situation looked quite dire. But we found out that public transit really is essential to our communities. What bus operators became was an essential worker for the essential workers. We were there to get them to the school, get them to their jobs, get them to their connections, to their doctor’s appointments. And without bus operators out there on the streets doing that, we might not have had the highest ridership, but it might’ve been the most important ridership that was going on at the time. (Cheers, applause, ‘Let’s go Bill!’)

[00:01:44] Shirley Block: Hello everybody. My name’s Shirley Block. I’m the president of ATU 757. I’ve been in transit for almost 43 years. And I tell you the last year and a half has been the roughest. All of transit, all over the whole United States and Canada, all over the world, we have struggled to make sure we can keep transit rolling. Not only just the operators, we’re talking to maintenance workers, customer service, cleaners, everybody has come out, frontline, left their homes and put themselves in harm’s way to keep transit rolling. Everybody deserve a real hand for that. (Cheers)

[00:02:30] Aimee Okotie-Oyekan: Good afternoon everyone. My name is Aimee Okotie-Oyekan. …Quality transportation is a lifeline and the relationship between communities of color and our transportation system has been a tenuous one. I can call the name of Rosa Parks and I’m sure many of our minds flood with the images of the Civil Rights Movement and the historic Montgomery bus boycott.

[00:02:58] We know this history. Transportation investments have historically prioritized car travel, while bypassing communities of color who are most burdened by the negative impacts of our transportation system while being the least well served by it. Because of this legacy, transportation is now the largest and fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States economy and the largest greenhouse gas contributor in Oregon. And we know these poisons are concentrated in these same historically marginalized communities.

[00:03:29] One of the most effective things that communities can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, and to promote resilience and livability in communities of color and low-income communities, is to ensure improved access to more abundant, affordable, and non-polluting transportation options, regardless of income, national origin, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, or ability.

[00:03:57] …I give a sincere thank you to the LTD bus drivers.

[00:04:06] Laurie Trieger: Um, I’m Laurie Trieger, I’m your Lane County Commissioner for District Three. We are in the district when we’re here downtown at the LTD Transit Center. I am a former advisory board member for Better Eugene Springfield Transit, and first got involved with BEST in the mid-2000s when I ran an organization called the Lane Coalition for Healthy, Active Youth, and we brought some of the first Safe Routes To School money into the community here to get kids engaged with active transportation, which of course includes public transit. I could be here to thank you on behalf of the thousands of school children that you help get safely to and from school every day, I’m also deeply committed to our caregivers professionals, and I could be here to thank you for getting healthcare professionals and caregivers to and from home and work. I could be here to thank you on behalf of grocery store workers and other shift workers who use LTD buses to get from home to work.

[00:04:59] But what I’m going to do today is thank you on behalf of one person. And that one person is my neighbor, Paul. Paul is now over 80, obviously long retired and some of his faculties and physical abilities have diminished over the last few years, but he’s still as kind as ever. Paul did the loving and kind thing for himself, his family, the community, by giving up his license and his car keys a few years ago to keep himself and everyone else safe. But what he still does and still did throughout the pandemic was bust out his walker to get to a bus stop, ride the bus here downtown and take his walk around downtown, where he could interact with a few more people, but still be safe, outdoors, masked, and distanced. I want to thank LTD bus drivers on behalf of my neighbor, Paul, for helping an elder in our community whose world is getting smaller and smaller. Have a great afternoon, and thank you Shirley for the reminder about vaccinations. Thank you everyone.

[00:06:04] Rep. Julie Fahey: Thank you. I’m Julie Fahey and I’m here to support our transit workers today, how about you? (Cheers)

[00:06:11] I know the last year and a half. have been incredibly hard on our essential workers. I really loved what Bill said about how bus drivers are ‘the essential workers for the essential workers.’ They’ve shown up every day, put themselves at risk before there was a vaccine and through the course of the last year and a half, so I just want to thank so much all of the bus drivers and the transit workers here for continuing to keep our community connected during all of these uncertain times. Thanks so much.

[00:06:43] Rob Zako: Next up, State Senator James Manning.

[00:06:47] Sen. James Manning: …I want you to know I stand with you, I have always stood by you, and as we continue to move forward you will have my undying support, because you have already demonstrated that you are worthy of all the (inaudible) people, you are committed to making this community a better place by providing essential services. So I am so grateful, thankful to you, and the only thing I can say is, Go bus! [Cheers, applause]

[00:07:24] Rob Zako: I think Farley asked to say some words come on up Farley and just say whatever you want, or just react to what you’re hearing.

[00:07:32] Farley Craig: Thank you, everyone for coming out. It’s really nice to see a lot of people out here today. Yeah, I’ve been driving for LTD for I don’t know, it’s during the pandemic, so it feels like 20 years, I think about four years now. But before that I was in Philadelphia and I used to ride the buses over there. That’s where I fell in love with the bus service.

[00:07:52] And I remember one of the bus drivers, I really liked him. He said, uh, I don’t watch movies. They bore me. Every night I see action, suspense, comedy, horror, drama, you know, sci-fi, and I see it all. And you know, I really see what he was saying. And I appreciate it because I tell you one thing, if you go to a new town and you want to find out what that town is about, you talk to a bus driver, And that’s a fact. You will find out a good place to eat that’s for sure. But you also find out about what’s going on with the town and I think it’s really important. It really feels good to hear all the voices here today, but I’m really hoping that in a year you can approach me or any of the other bus drivers and say, how’s it been since the time I last saw you, has it gotten better? And I’m hoping that we can say yes, it has been getting better and it’s been getting safer and it’s been getting cleaner and it’s been getting more efficient. I really hope you guys can do that when you see us in a year’s time. Thank you so much.

John Q: Love Those Drivers. LTD.

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