Community, Springfield

Springfield celebrates local transit 

SPRINGFIELD – The first bus line in the world was started by Blaise Pascal on March 18, 1662, according to Rob Zako, executive director of Better Eugene-Springfield Transportation (BEST). Thus, it’s only fitting for Transit Employee Appreciation Day to fall on March 18, 2024.

Local leaders gathered at Springfield Station this past Monday morning to praise Lane Transit District (LTD) employees and share personal stories as to how public transportation, and LTD in particular, have touched them.

Congresswoman Val Hoyle and senator James Manning had statements read on their behalf as neither was able to attend the event. Both sent their gratitude to LTD workers.

Sen. James Manning’s son Jerale Manning read his dad’s statement which praised frontline transit workers and the workforce behind the scenes “who keeps Lane County moving.”

Mayor Sean VanGordon said the Springfield Station was “a critical investment to really get downtown back on track because it was one of the first flat-out new buildings we’d seen in a while.”

“And frankly, as we went through a pandemic, we went through a lot of things so far in the 2020s, it has been frontline workers like bus drivers who really have done so much day to day to make sure the community keeps running,” he said.

Transit Employee Appreciation Day was celebrated at the Lane Transit Bus Station in Springfield. Employees and volunteers got the crowd into the spirit with signs, stickers, and baked goods. Above is Claire Roth, Better Eugene-Springfield Transit program manager.

David Reesor, of the University of Oregon transportation services, and Jennifer Hayward, of the facilities and public safety department of Lane Community College, both expressed their gratitude toward LTD workers for providing ways for students, staff, and faculty to get to and from their campuses.

Jennifer Hayward, interim associate vice president for facilities and public safety at Lane Community College, thanked transit employees for “making it possible for our students to achieve their dreams and making their lives better for themselves and their families every day.” She specifically shouted out bus drivers for their “friendly and helpful demeanor” as well.

“My own office at transportation services that we are building is adjacent to the Walnut Street station, and pretty much on a daily basis, I can look out one of our windows and see a whole platform full of university students. It’s always full,” Reesor said. “On a personal note, I have two teenage boys who ride the LTD bus daily to and from school. They rely on the drivers for that, and a lot of their peers do as well, and it’s wonderful to see that every day.”

Pete Knox, Lane Transit District board secretary, said he has been “riding on LTD buses since there were dinosaurs on there,” and praised LTD bus drivers for their humanity and incredible ethics.

Springfield Chamber president Vonnie Mikkelsen said, “We all know public transit plays a crucial role in enhancing our community’s economic competitiveness.” She also shared a story about her mother, who consistently utilized LTD buses for transportation after losing her eyesight and the ability to get around.

“She was fiercely independent, so even when my dad didn’t want to accompany her to the Hult Center for a good concert in the evening, she would go alone to and from safely and enjoy an evening all by herself,” Mikkelsen said. “Every day, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of interactions between you and our community that we all serve, and every day you act as the front door to people we care about, offering each an experience that matters to their and our quality of life. You are essential to economic opportunity, connections, and an essential component of our community.”



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