Education opens doors to better one’s future career, and we should all be doing what we can to expand access to education to all in our communities. As a lifelong south-side Santa Fe resident, I was the first in my family to go to college. I’m currently pursuing my master’s degree, and I know the importance of education. I strongly believe that education has the ability to serve as a tool for social justice and social mobility. As an advocate for equity for all members of our community, I believe that public transit is integral to providing access to education and therefore to enhancing social justice and social mobility.
My work with prospective and current students at Santa Fe Community College shines a light every day on our students’ needs, and I hear time and time again that many of them depend on public transit routes to get them to class. They could not complete their education without these routes. I also know of colleagues who depend on the bus to get them to work. We all know the struggle those who work in Santa Fe have with finding affordable places to live in the city. This means many people commute, and they need these routes to be able to continue with a job in education, which they do not want to give up just because they live outside of Santa Fe.
Public transit allows those who may not have the same access to advantages as others to get to school and achieve education, to get to a job and build a career. For those who already have served this community and are now retired on a fixed income, public transportation allows them to get to their doctor’s appointments, to socialize and to have mobility.
Public transit provides anyone the freedom to go anywhere. It can be as monumental as helping them get to that class or that job or that doctor’s appointment they must attend, or as seemingly small as getting them to the coffee shop to meet that friend and not feel alone. They can do this without having to make a choice between getting to that place and buying food because, right now, it is affordable and many have the opportunity to get discounted or free bus passes.
Public transit can be a genuine lifeline to those who may not have the means — financial or familial — to move about without it. Public transportation works for youth and the elderly and for those who are pursuing education and those who are working to make ends meet.
In addition, public transit benefits this community in a number of ways. Like many others, I value our environment and know that public transportation is one real way to help lessen our carbon footprint. Transit can be an important piece of the puzzle when looking at ways to address our current climate crisis.
In our community and communities across the state, transit is a necessity, and it’s my hope that we all continue to support our local transit agencies and that state leadership continues to support public transit in New Mexico as a whole.
Marcos Maez is the director of Recruitment and Dual Credit Programs at Santa Fe Community College and the education representative on the Santa Fe Transit Advisory Board.