Joselyn I.

“I have lived in Akron for about a year now and have used METRO to get around the city.”

[For fun] “I like to read and play games like Word Scape. My mom finished the game and now I am working on beating her score. It’s a competition.”

“The person who inspires me is my grandma. I grew up with my grandparents. I used to go everywhere with them. I used to have this baby doll and I would never leave without it. My grandma passed away and my grandpa is 86; still walking around and acting like a child. He loves to spend time with his grandkids.”

John A.

“This is my first year in Akron so catching the bus is very new to me. I usually catch bus numbers 1, 6, and 14.”

“The bus drivers make you feel so… they have so much knowledge and are so friendly…I’ve been to Cleveland, Canton different cities and for me personally, Akron drivers are more friendly than some of the other places I’ve been.”

“I have a favorite bus driver and for Christmas, I got her a card and on the top of the card, I wrote The world’s best bus driver. She has what we call a Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul heart; when it comes to talking to you, she makes you feel like family.”

“In my spare time, I create videos and take photographs. I am working on going back to school for my Master’s degree in counseling.”

Timothy B.

“I have been riding METRO for 30 years; pretty much my entire life… it’s my go-to for traveling.”

Timothy B. has lived in Summit County for 30 years and has relied on METRO RTA to get him to work, home, and other destinations in the county. He recently purchased a scooter to get around and is happy to know he can bring the scooter on board the bus as long as it is folded and properly stored. He stays informed on METRO service updates and free ride promotions by following METRO on Facebook at Akron METRO Regional Transit Authority.

“The biggest change I have noticed [about the buses] is the technology moving toward the 21st century. It was already moving in that direction, but you can tell everything is more modern. Have you seen the new Electric buses coming in 2022!?”

Van S.

Van Stump has worked with METRO as a bus operator for nine years. Three years ago he found a new passion for photography. He started taking pictures of food, in part, due to his motto, “We eat with our eyes.” Once he was comfortable with the camera a good friend encouraged him to take photos of wildlife. From there, Van has traveled around the country to take beautiful shots. Van stated, “I enjoy taking photos of dragonflies. Once, a dragonfly was 8 feet away from me. I was able to get some good shots of the dragonfly in flight. I was so excited to review the film once I got home.” Van is not only a great METRO team member, but is an outstanding photographer. Stump’s photography can be viewed at the Robert K Pfaff Transit Center at 631 South Broadway near downtown Akron. You can also find his work on Flickr under the username Eat With Your Eyez or email him at unusualeyephotography@yahoo.com

Pierre

“I’m in town from Tennessee visiting family. I come out [on the bus] and hangout with [Operator] Stephanie. She’s my go-to person to chill and have fun with. I could say a lot of positive things about Stephanie. I met her through my friend who also works at METRO and we became good friends. If I see her [driving] I just hop on the bus!”

Leader Emilia Sykes

“My family has a deep connection to METRO. I’ve had family members who were [bus] operators and my grandmother was one of the originators of the SCAT programs. I know how important public transit is to get people where they need to go and to move our community, literally and figuratively.

“One Saturday I saw a woman who was stranded in the wheelchair off the roadway. It took nothing but a phone call to find a SCAT driver nearby who could pick her up and take her home. It really was God’s work.

“I often call my District the ‘Birthplace of Champions.’ You all know LeBron James, but people should know people at METRO are champions in our community.”

Ms. S

Meet the first passenger on METRO Connect!

“I’m heading to a doctor’s appointment that I’ve pushed off since March. It’s important we continue to take care of ourselves and get stuff done, (even with COVID). When I use METRO Connect again, I’ll go to other doctor appointments and the bank.”

METRO Connect is a call-ahead service providing convenient trips from designated bus stops to specific destinations within the areas of Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, and Tallmadge. The pilot program began September 14, 2020.

“I lived in Maryland for 20 years before moving back home. I used to ride SCAT to my dad’s house to take care of him. I’ve been riding for four years. I don’t need to ride SCAT though to get where I need to go… (METRO Connect) is perfect for me. The bus stop is close by (to home). I think it’s a better deal, actually.

“I’m really appreciative of those who wipe down the buses so we can have a safe ride. Today, I thought to myself ‘it’d be nice to get on the bus and see different sites.’ It’s nice to get out, ride, and feel safe! I’m glad I followed through.”

Zacharia

Zacharia“I used to live in Philadelphia and public transit was a big part of my daily routine. I was always so pleased that public transit helped lessen my negative impact on the environment; it truly is one of the greatest avenues to sustainability. Taking the bus on a daily basis also gave me a lot of exposure to a diverse community of people. Because of my positive experiences with public transit, I jumped on the chance to design a mural around it.”

Zacharia featured a METRO bus in his a transit-themed chalk mural as part of Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership’s Chalk it Up event. The event tasked six local artists to bring to bring color, vibrancy, and a sense of community to the downtown district. Zacharia’s art can be seen on the side of Flury’s Cafe.

“I’ve been into art as long as I can remember. My father, brother, and sister are all artists as well so I guess you could say it is in my blood. My hope was that I could use my illustration skills to give back and honor the things that I appreciate most about public transit; community, sustainability, diversity, and efficiency.”

Rachel

Rachel Barnett headshot_v3
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) dedicated the June issue of Passenger Transport, an APTA publication, to racial inequality and the July edition to Pride Month. Here’s what METRO Operator Rachel submitted:

Bringing People Together as Equals

“Public transit reaches all types of racial and ethnic groups. Public transit serves all types of people for different reasons and brings together people from all walks of life, as one. As a black bus driver, I have dealt with some passengers being racist toward myself and co-workers. With these challenges, we, as bus drivers, have to be careful how we deal with this situation. If we respond or handle it the wrong way, then there is a possibility that we may lose our job. “At METRO RTA of Akron, OH, all bus drivers are required to take a class titled ‘Bridges out of Poverty’ when hired. The training taught me to realize how different we all really are by the different ways each of us were raised by our families. It was very interesting to me to see in real life how different our upbringings were as co-workers. A way for public transportation to address the systematic racism problems that are around us, every day, is to understand what these differences cause. As an example, white individuals cannot understand racism on a daily basis because it has become the status quo. There needs to be continued and expanded dialogue and training available to help individuals have a better understanding of all our unique differences. “A paragraph in a book called PowerNomics by Dr. Claud Anderson provides a great definition of racism. Dr. Anderson states that ‘Racism is a wealth and power-based competitive relationship between blacks and non-blacks. The sole purpose of racism is to support and ensure that the white majority and its ethnic subgroups continue to use blacks as a mean to produce wealth and power.’ That is why the bus boycott in Montgomery, AL, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was successful when black passengers decided not to use the bus system until they were able to sit wherever they pleased. Public transportation needs to keep promoting the message that everyone is on equal footing and has a fair shot at the opportunities provided for employees. “Another good step public transportation can take to address systematic racism is to post signs recognizing programs and celebrations of different ethnic groups, such as Kwanzaa, Juneteenth and others, and serve as a sponsor to racial and ethnic events in the community.”

Not Tolerating Being Defined by Others

“The Stonewall riots in 1969 were demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ community in response to a police raid of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York City, in June of that year. The riots had to happen to bring attention to the treatment and brutality toward the LGBTQ community. Their treatment was solely based on their lifestyle and who they were. “This year, some major steps are being taken to provide equal rights to the LGBTQ community. On June 15, the Supreme Court ruled that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement Not Tolerating Being Defined by Others for LGBTQ equality a long-sought and unexpected victory. In layman terms, it simply means that an employer is not allowed to fire a person based on their sexuality. “With myself being a lesbian, I sometimes feel like I am faced with the double whammy. I deal with racial inequity as a black woman and with being a lesbian. But I refuse to let other people define me as being less than them; we are all equal. “METRO RTA of Akron, OH, my employer, does its best to work on and address equality among its workforce and the community. I have never felt from management any unfair treatment related to my sexuality, nor would I allow it. I believe that the public transit system can help with community awareness about LGBTQ issues. This could be done by sponsoring different community events, posting information showing support, and listing community events by advertising inside and outside of buses, and to have literature available in the transit center from support groups during Gay Pride events and also throughout the year. All transit authorities’ providers should keep the doors of communication open with the LGBTQ community. “I often refer to a quote that I really like from the late actor Paul Newman: ‘I’m a supporter of gay rights. And not a closet supporter, either. From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being… by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant.'”

Don

Don Jeffrey vertical“Art has always been my ambition. Growing up, I wanted to be a cartoonist and write my own comic strip. I realized I needed to find a different job to make more money. I worked in retail for 30 years doing visual merchandising at Dillard’s, Macy’s, JCPenney, and Kohl’s. It was in 2016 when I decided to do drawings for myself.

“I started with watercolor, pen, and ink and mixed the three together. I liked how professional it looked, and from there my art just took off! My first art show was at Summit Artspace in Barberton at the ‘A Brush with Magic’ show in 2018. People thought this was the best work I’ve ever done. They liked them better than my comic strips. I also draw greeting cards for people. I haven’t bought a greeting card in 30 years!

“I used to take the bus when I was a student at the University of Akron. I would walk from campus to the library downtown and catch the bus to go to work in Chapel Hill. It was never a direct trip, you know, so I got to know the city pretty well.”