How to Support Public Transit in Your Community

Imagine getting fired because you can’t get to work on time – and not by any fault of your own. That’s a legitimate fear for many who depend on public transit.

Across the United States and United Kingdom, governments are cutting funding to local buses and trains in droves. Cities are bumping prices and closing routes.

Every few weeks, someone starts a Care2 petition to save a bus line or metro route. It doesn’t help that President Donald Trump is slashing federal transportation budgets by 13 percent, too.

Here’s how to support public transportation in your area.

1. Join a Campaign

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where activists are already working on this issue, consider getting involved. Preexisting organizations often ache for resources, whether in the form of volunteer time or project funding.

You can provide valuable help, and the work can pay off. For instance, a New Mexico grassroots group called the Chainbreaker Collective persuaded the City of Santa Fe to buy more buses back in 2012.

The American Public Transportation Association has a long list of organizations that you might be able to connect with. The Campaign for Better Transport advocates for public transit in the UK.

2. Start Your Own Action

If advocates haven’t yet laid the groundwork in your community, you can start your own campaign. The Campaign for Better Transport suggests you create a concrete plan that includes the changes you want to see, as well as potential allies to your cause, like local senior centers and churches.

Gathering data about who rides transit and where is also important. The group recommends:

Do some research on public transport in your area more generally and think creatively. In one area residents realized that if a route was extended to go to a shopping center it would become busy and profitable and a commercial operator stepped up to run the service without the need for council subsidy.

Keep in mind that local authorities are being squeezed and will likely be more receptive if you can suggest ways in which savings can be made in less damaging ways. For example, you could suggest which routes, if any, would be least missed, you could consider ways that social services and school transport could be used by all, and you might want to think about community run transport solutions.

Start a petition. Drum up media support, and talk to local decision-makers.

3. Show up at Meetings

Are local leaders talking about raising bus fares? Be there when they discuss a policy change.

Many government meetings are open to the public and allow for public comment. Check with your local city council for a schedule.

The Environmental Protection Agency has some tips for making a strong public statement. Even just filling a chair to support or oppose an action can make a difference.

4. Write Letters and Share Your Popular Petition

Write everyone about your cause. Write letters to the editor at your local paper. Write city politicians; you can often find their contact info by getting in touch with your city council.

If the issue you’re pushing spans beyond your immediate community, consider contacting your district office by phone or letter. If you present them a petition with many signatures, they will realize this issue impacts many people.

Access to public transportation is essential. Those who can’t afford cars, those who want to conserve energy and those who don’t — or can’t — drive all need a way to get around. In 2016 alone, Americans took 10.4 billion trips.

It’s time for leaders to understand this reality.

If you want to make a difference in public transportation in your area, you can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.


Photo Credit: Peter-Paul Moschik/Unsplash


Marie W
Marie W7 months ago


Chad Anderson
Chad Andersonabout a year ago


Carl R
Carl Rabout a year ago


Amanda M
Amanda Mabout a year ago

Petition signed. There is public transportation in the rural county where I live, but the TOWN I live in (10 miles away from the county seat) has NONE. Yep, we have NO public transportation unless you count cabs, and I don't count that because the cost is prohibitively expensive for the working class. When you make minimum wage or slightly above that, since when can you afford a ONE-WAY tab of $25 or more, much less a round trip of double that? Our town is FINALLY making noises about adding public transportation-unfortunately, they're focusing solely on seniors and leaving out the working class people who live here and have jobs elsewhere. HELLO?!

And I just spent SIX MONTHS cooped up in the house because my truck threw a rod last August, and we couldn't afford a second vehicle for me until our tax returns came in last month! The only time I could go anywhere was when my husband was home from work. ARGH. If I'd been working at a job outside the home, I'd have been up the river without a paddle! (I still insist that being a SAHM deserves a real paycheck and deserves counting as the real job that it is, but that's another rant.)

Paulo Reeson
Paulo Rabout a year ago


Paulo Reeson
Paulo Rabout a year ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta Wabout a year ago

thank you for sharing

Winn A
Winn Aabout a year ago


RK Rabout a year ago

We're getting the Hyperloop. Can't wait.

Angel W
Past Member about a year ago