November 22, 2010
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Transit Salutes/Supports Veterans on Nov. 11
Each year, people throughout North America commemorate the sacrifices of their veterans in Nov. 11 observances of Veterans Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in Canada. Public transportation agencies, integral parts of their communities, show their support by providing free rides and other forms of recognition to former and current members of the armed forces.
In New York City, MTA Metro-North Railroad continued its annual tradition of holding a ceremony honoring all veterans of the U.S. armed forces—as well as its employees who have served—in the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal. The program featured the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Police Pipe and Drum Band, as well as a color guard from Commodore Vanderbilt American Legion Post #1158.
Metro-North employs 669 veterans, about one in five of all its employees, including a dozen who are currently on active duty.
TransLink in Vancouver, BC, and its operating companies, honored men and women who have served in current and past conflicts on Nov. 11 by providing free rides to members of the Royal Canadian Legion; veterans of the Canadian Army, Navy, and Air Force; and the Korean Veterans Association. The free transit service was also available to members of the armed services currently; police, including auxiliaries; firefighters; the Coast Guard; BC Ambulance Paramedics; and officers of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
“Providing free transit service is one small way of thanking the men and women of the Services for the job they have done over the years in protecting freedom for Canadians and others abroad,” said TransLink Chief Executive Officer Ian Jarvis.
TransLink’s components—Coast Mountain Bus Company, West Vancouver Blue Bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus, and Community Shuttles—observed a period of silence at the stop they reached closest to 11 a.m.
For many years, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) has helped the Royal Canadian Legion increase awareness of the annual Poppy Campaign (for what Canada refers to as “Remembrance Day”) by hosting the official launch and inviting the media to attend. The monetary returns from this campaign provide many types of assistance, including supporting veterans for expenses not covered by the federal government. From the end of October through Nov. 11, Legion representatives were in all subway stations every day.
“The annual Poppy Campaign is important for several reasons, said TTC Vice-Chair Joe Mihevc. “First and foremost, it commemorates those who served our country in times of war, and in peacekeeping operations. This is particularly important once again this year with our troops serving in Afghanistan.”
In addition, on Nov. 11, TTC brought its fleet of buses, streetcars, and subway trains to a halt for two minutes at 11 a.m. in honor of Canada’s veterans. Subways stopped at station platforms, while buses and streetcars remained at scheduled service stops. Before the two-minute pause, TTC made the following announcement: “Attention TTC customers, the Toronto Transit Commission will observe a two-minute ‘stop and stay,’ to pause and reflect on the sacrifices for peace made by Canadians.”
The Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (CCRTA) in Corpus Christi, TX, thanked veterans and active-duty military and invited them to ride free on any of its services, including paratransit, on Nov. 11. “It is a privilege for us to serve our veterans and active-duty military on a day that symbolizes respect and honor such as Veterans Day,” said Mike Setzer, CCRTA interim chief executive officer. “Allowing our military to ride free for a day will allow us the opportunity to serve and thank them for their service.”
The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority in Tampa, FL, also invited retired and current military members, as well as their family members and dependents, to ride free on Veterans Day.
But some states go significantly beyond the annual Veterans Day support. A recently passed state law in Minnesota says disabled veterans—and approximately 50,000 of them live there—may ride free on any fixed route transit system in the state at any time, along with a personal care attendant if needed.
“This initiative will provide a tremendous service for disabled veterans in Minnesota. They are our nation’s heroes,” said Clark Dyrud, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.
In Illinois, all riders with disabilities—not just veterans—are eligible for free transit rides.
Photo: Toronto Transit Commission
Several former TTC employees, all veterans of World War II, attended the annual Poppy sale launch at the Toronto Transit Commission's Davisville subway station.