Public transit is an essential offering in our communities, creating independence for those without other means of transportation. Students, those with disabilities, and those without a personal vehicle all benefit from having a public transit system.

In Grants and Milan, community members from all walks of life rely daily upon transit. Children of working parents — including my own children — utilize the system to attend after-school events, summer events, visit the public library, go swimming and attend any type of event that otherwise would be impossible to get to with their parents’ work schedules. Additionally, our riders use transit to go to the doctor, dialysis, shopping, library, food pantries and to run errands, among other things.

During my time working with Carrot Express, I have heard firsthand from our riders. We have provided vital services to spouses of deployed servicemen and servicewomen, those with disabilities, seniors, children, students and employees. Public transit is a way of life for so many people in our area. Relying upon a personal vehicle is not an option for many of our riders, and transit offers them a peace of mind and the ability to maintain their freedom in choosing where they want to go and when.

While the government should view transit as a pillar of a community — much in the same way infrastructure is viewed — it is all too commonly dismissed as an unnecessary expense. This is at the detriment of the community and is a dismissal of the needs of so many to whom transit is a necessity. It is a dismissal of all who would have no other means of accessing medical care, getting an education, getting to and from work, and getting to events throughout their community. Whether out of need or out of a desire to live an independent life, many in our community need the services of the Carrot Express.

Our public transit service is constantly under threat of being shut down. If state lawmakers take an active approach to protecting and supporting transit — and the ways of life of many in rural New Mexico — the threat of being shut down could be eliminated.

If state lawmakers take an active approach to protecting and supporting transit, infrastructure would increase, independence for those without transportation would increase, emissions can be lowered, and quality of life would be enhanced for all in Grants and Milan, as well as in many communities across the state whose citizens need reliable public transit.

Sarah Austin is the Carrot Express transit manager in Milan.

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