A Walk In Their Shoes: Leaders Shadow Residents With Painful Commutes | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Filed Under:

A Walk In Their Shoes: Leaders Shadow Residents With Painful Commutes

Play associated audio
Renee Scarlet talks with Marty Schwartz from Vehicles for Change about her new, streamlined commute.
Armando Trull
Renee Scarlet talks with Marty Schwartz from Vehicles for Change about her new, streamlined commute.

It's early morning at Renee Scarlet's red brick row house house in Hyattsville. The single mom has just said goodbye to 3-year-old twins Jayden and Amani. Her two other children, Anthony, 8, and Marquis, 10, were packed off to school just a few minutes ago. 

Up until recently, this would have been the time that Renee embarked on her 2.5 hour commute to work in Gaithersburg on foot, then on Metro, and finally on a bus. 

"Yes, that's how I had to take care of my family," Scarlet says.

There are 195,000 households without a car in D.C.; of those, there are 7,000 for whom that status makes it difficult to get and keep a job, according to a Brookings Institution study published last year. The nonprofit Vehicles for Change is trying to combat this problem — they helped Scarlett get her own vehicle last year — and today they will introduce community leaders to her and other families with similarly daunting transportation challenges.

For Scarlett, the breaking point came when her employer, Peapod, moved 22 miles away to Hanover, Md. It might as well have been to the moon, given Hanover's lack of public transportation options. 

"I wouldn't have had any public transportation, and I would have been forced to resign my position," Scarlett says. 

Then, she got a helping hand from Vehicles for Change. They helped her purchase a 2000 Chrysler SUV for just $750. It came with a 6-month, 6,000-mile warranty.  

"It's all about getting families like Renee's to and from employment," says Marty Schwartz, the president of Vehicles for Change. "We have families in the region who are trying to do the right thing … but without a vehicle you can't even do daily chores, let alone get to and from work, even with good public transportation." 

Today's event, called 'Walk in Their Shoes' is designed to help community leaders better understand the transportation challenges of many in the D.C. area. 

NPR

How'd A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries

Tom Toro was a directionless 20-something film school dropout. Then, after an inspired moment at a used book sale, he started submitting drawings to The New Yorker ... and collecting rejection slips.
NPR

Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

A handful of chefs and food companies are experimenting with fish-like alternatives to seafood. But the market is still a few steps behind plant-based products for meat and dairy.
NPR

Possible GOP Presidential Candidates Woo Iowa

The 2016 Iowa caucuses are a year away. On Saturday, a long list of potential candidates showed up at a political forum in Des Moines to begin courting the state's most conservative GOP activists.
NPR

Sling TV Could Be Cable-Cutter's Dream

Sling TV launches in a few weeks. That's the new streaming service from Dish that allows viewers to stream content previously only available through cable.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.