Transportation Stories, Part 1: Getting Around Town Is Not That Easy!

Getting around town to go to school, work, community events, and hang out with friends is an issue that resonates for almost every young person. In a special series on transportation and how it affects the lives of youth in Fresno, The kNOw writers share how the lack of access to realiable transportation is an invisible social and economic barrier to success, especially in a city like Fresno where walkable communities and safe public transportation are limited.


Creepers On The Bus
When I was younger I didn’t have many needs that required transportation. I caught the school bus to get to school, and I would then catch a ride from my parents or the city bus to go places on weekends. Now that I’m older, I have many places to go, especially now since it’s summer. I attend summer school at Fresno City College, work at Long John Silver’s five times a week, attend weekly meetings for The Know, and squeeze my recreational time in when possible.

This would not be possible if I hadn’t gotten my driver’s license or if my parents didn’t help out since we only have one car. It’s a challenge scheduling everyone’s needs around one car. At times I need to catch the bus to go home from school or for my recreational purposes.

I don’t enjoy riding the bus that much though because there is always some creeper trying to get my number or trying to flirt with me. I recall a time when I was on the bus minding my own business just waiting for my stop to come when a random guy sat next to me. I had no idea why because the bus was practically empty, but still he sat next to me. He attempted to talk to me a couple of times, and I didn’t say much to him, just a nod or two. I didn’t want to be mean and tell him to leave me alone, so I acted like I was listening, just wishing my stop would hurry and come.

His stop came before mine, and while he was getting off the bus he asked me for my number. I smiled and shook my head to tell him no. After that I try to ride the bus as little as possible.
-Gracie, 17


Biking Around Town
My transportation needs are college, hanging out with friends, and grocery shopping for the family. These are my transportation needs as a young person. Oh yeah, sometimes I have to visit my relatives too.

Transportation has been easy and challenging for me. Like when my uncle isn’t around, I use my bike. Or when my uncle is around, I ask if he can take me to my destination. I give him gas money because sometimes my destination is far. I use the city bus to get around town too.

Sometimes I use my bike to go to my friend’s house or even around town to do photography for The Know. Last month, I rode my bike all the way to Wal-Mart on the other side of town with my brother, which is about five miles away. I was going to ask my uncle to take me, but I didn’t, because I feel bad for asking him too much.

So my brother and I rode our bikes to Wal-Mart to go buy a video game called Blur, then we rode our bikes back home. I feel that I should go get my driver’s license, so that I can go anywhere and drive my mom where she needs to go.
-Luis, 18


Always Asking For Rides
I’m all over the place, and I’m still a kid. Here, there, everywhere. I’m constantly asking for rides. I always need a ride to school. I go to The Know meetings twice a week. Once a week I go to McLane High School for leadership meetings. But I live on the other side of town near Edison High School.

Also I’m always doing community service activities, most of them are at Lost Lake, Woodward Park, and Fresno State. I also play football and volleyball about twice a week, each time on different days. On the weekends, I tend to go out to my friend’s house near Sunnyside High School.

Transportation is really difficult for me. I tend to ask a ride from my dad and sister but I usually carpool with my friends. I wish I started to drive already. I only have my permit and so I’m not allowed to drive yet. The best way I get around town is carpooling.

I remember one time I had gone to a friend’s house for a party but I had no ride back home. I asked my friend to take me home but he had no more room for me. His girlfriend decided to call for a ride so he was able to take me home. I felt so bad. I really hate depending on others but that’s how I get around. I wish transportation was easier for me. I need to start driving soon.
-Yee Leng, 17


Limited Transportation
Now that I’m a young adult my need for transportation has only become more immediate. I go more places than I used to, and because my options are limited, I have to explore new ones. The bus usually gets me where I need to go, but lately, that method is proving to be quite unreliable.

In recent months, transportation has become substantially difficult. I have to plan my time accordingly. I can’t really go anywhere on the weekends. I’ll never bother thinking about planning to go somewhere past four or five p.m. since I won’t be able to get back home. The only real reliable way I have of getting around is walking. Other than that, there is no guarantee I will get to or back from where I need to go.

Usually, though, I rely on the bus. The places I often go are reachable by bus. However, the bus can be late, and they only run for so long. Nowadays, I just catch a ride with my boyfriend in his van.
-Jalessa, 20


From Bus To Car
“Free at last!” I thought to myself when my driving instructor said I passed. Growing up I’ve grown familiar with taking the city buses, riding bikes, and car pooling. Although I have taken these forms of transportation I’ve always found it more comfortable in my mom’s and my car. I didn’t like the fact that I needed to pay a bus fare and sometimes transfers aren’t enough if I needed to get off more than one stop. Riding bikes weren’t such a good idea if the weather wasn’t pleasant. Sometimes when carpooling I feel like it can be a hassle.

For me transportation has gotten a lot easier. I live near Cedar Ave so I can take bus 38 and it can get me to the mall, Fresno State, my grandma’s house, and anywhere in Fresno.

Recently, I passed my drive test, so I’ve been driving my own car a lot. I like it a lot more than relying on the city bus or school bus because I can take it as long as I want and I don’t have to worry about leaving early. I realize that it’s a lot more convenient because now, the only inconvenience that occurs is when the police close roads due to accidents, or trains are passing, or roads are getting worked on.

On the city bus, I haven’t really experienced anything bad. I realized there were a lot of kind people who took the bus because every time my boyfriend and I took the bus, we always got compliments on how cute we looked.

When I was younger my mom always told me that sometimes crazy people take the city bus. I was scared to take the bus because of what she said, but I haven’t seen anything bad. I’ve just seen a lot of diversity and nice people.
-Gabby, 18


Relying On The Bus
As a young person I either need a car or bus pass. The reason why I would like a car is so I won’t have to wait for the bus to get me where I need to be. The reason for the bus pass is because you can spend money almost everyday for gas and all you need is thirty dollars for one bus pass that gets you everywhere.

Transportation has not been difficult for me because I am very used to catching the bus and it’s only one dollar to get on the bus. I get around town by using the bus. My mom doesn’t have a car and neither do any of my friends. So I use the bus to get everywhere!

I have never experienced anything on the bus that affected my view on transportation. But some of the stories I have heard makes me feel that not just anyone should be on the bus. What if some people cause harm to others? Nobody is going to want to do anything but become part of the problem. So I feel that the rules on the bus should be stricter.
-Jana, 16


Having A Car Is Not All That
Everyone needs a way to get from point A to point B. I have a driver’s license, but I need my own car. For some teenagers who have their own car, they have to worry about gas money, and insurance. Some even have to work to pay off their cars.

Before I got my license, it was pretty hard getting around. I felt like a burden to others who would pick me up and drop me off. Little has changed since I got my license because I don’t have my own car. I still depend on people. Sometimes I feel like a burden. What has helped me is carpooling with friends who live nearby or having my boyfriend pick me up and drop me off.

When I first got my license, I was overjoyed. I thought I would get my own car, but now I don’t think I want one anymore. Cars are pretty stressful to own and maintain. I would rather wait on owning my own car because I want to know that I can afford it. For the next four years, I think my means of transportation will be to walk, bike, take the bus or train to Fresno (since I’m going away fro college), and carpool when possible.
-Arena, 18


Bus Stop Harassment
As a young person my transportation needs include going to school, going out with friends, going to community events, and also going shopping. Luckily my boyfriend drives now so he takes me wherever I wish to go. Before that it was really difficult to go do things that I wanted or needed to do. I used to get around town by carpooling with older siblings, taking the bus, and by walking.

I remember this one time my boyfriend and I took the bus to Manchester Mall to watch a movie. After the movie we went back to the stop to wait for the bus. While we were waiting, a drunk guy walked up to us and asked us how our day was. I could smell the alcohol even before he approached us. He then stared at us and asked if we were boyfriend and girlfriend. We just nodded and held each other’s hand quietly. Then the drunk guy told us that he was really rich and would give us ten thousand dollars if we let him watch us have sex! I was so scared I shouted “no”! We walked away.

After he left we came back and waited for the bus again. That experience made me feel scared to take the bus. I’m glad that I can carpool with my boyfriend, but then again there are still others who are getting harassed by people when they take the bus. I hope public transportation can be safer for everyone!
-Angelina, 17


Walking With My iPod
When I was younger I was pretty much forced to take the bus. For this reason I don’t take it anymore. What I need for transportation is a bus, car, feet, or bike. The one I love to use is my feet, for walking. It doesn’t take much time, plus I keep my money and I don’t have to sit next to a drunk guy or a bunch of chirpy girls. It’s just my music and me.

I love walking. It helps me relax if I’m mad, confused, hurt, or just need to get away. I can be me or I can be anyone I dream as I walk. I dream that I am singing the song playing on my Ipod, and everything changes; cars are not around me anymore. There are a few nice people who smile when they walk pass or some people ask for money; but I just walk like nothing can stop me. When the wind hits me, it sends a chill but it makes me walk faster or it changes my mood in a good way. I can say walking is relatively easy, just being alone.
-Omar, 19


Rejected By The Bus Driver
My transportation situation is difficult. Well, it’s not difficult because it’s just simply walking, or taking the bus, but I need either money, bus tickets, or a bus pass. It’s hard to get all of that. It’s hard because I have to worry about missing the bus, and which way I have to go. I need to get a certain place at a certain time, and sometimes I’m not able to make it, so I have to cancel the whole thing. So in general I get around town by walking or taking the bus.

I remember one time when I was getting off the bus to get onto another one, and the bus I needed to get on was just pulling off into the street. When I walked up to the bus, the bus driver said no I couldn’t get on. I didn’t understand because he was at a red light and I could have gotten on.

It made me really mad because I had met a lot of nice bus drivers but there are a few crabby ones. Running into one just made me mad because it’s already hard to deal with the heat and the running around, and then waiting, but somehow it gets that much worse. One of these days I’m going to have my own transportation and not have to deal with buses!
-Meme, 16

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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