I’m Alice Frayne. When I was growing up in South San Francisco in the 1930’s, cars were still a rarity.
I would take the streetcar all the way up Mission Street from South San Francisco into the City to see the ice skating scene in the Emporium Christmas windows. It cost just pennies.
My family walked everywhere: school, church, the market, the movies, and the library. All of these things were close by. My father, an iron worker, took the train home once a month from Hetch Hetchy to see us.
At that time, everyone could live their life fully without a car.
But by the 1950s, cars were everywhere and everything was changing in order to accommodate them.
And as a young woman I started to see the impacts of this new way of life that went far beyond my neighborhood and city. I was a scientist and heard a few scientists say that our intense new dependence on oil would lead to shortages and wars.
Then there was the Six Day War in 1967 between Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Golda Mier said to America, “Do not equate barrels of oil with barrels of U.S. dollars; equate barrels of oil with barrels of Israeli boys’ blood.”
I’ve never forgotten that quote, and ever since hearing it I’ve seen our country’s love affair with cars in a very dark way.
That’s why for 50 years now, public transportation has largely defined how I live my life. And when you really do take the bus everywhere, you experience all the ways it needs to be better.
A worker deserves to be able to get to a night shift at their job.
A parent deserves to be able to get their child to a doctor’s appointment.
A senior like me deserves to be able to visit my granddaughter or come to the City, like I did tonight.
That’s why I’ve testified countless times with TransForm for so many years at public meetings at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on ways they must increase and improve public transportation service.
That’s why I have been a donor to TransForm for a decade now and why I call my legislators when TransForm encourages me to, so we win more funding for public transportation.
It’s because I want things to be like when I was a kid again in one fundamentally important way: everyone can live their life fully without a car.
Thank you to all of you for being part of this movement and to TransForm for 15 years of unique, essential leadership.