Rethinking Public Transit Space for Better Public Health

A recent article in the APTA’s Passenger Transport magazine highlighted the work of the Central Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, otherwise known as rabbittransit, and their work to improve public health through transit.  rabbittransit embraces three core values: safety, service, stewardship.  While the first two are an obvious choice for a transit focused organization, rabbittransit asks “What if being a good steward also meant leveraging public assets for public good?”

rabbittransit has taken a more holistic approach to stewardship by stepping up to serve on the advisory council of an initiative known as Eat Play Breath York.  This community based movement seeks to engage community members to spark change that improves access to healthy foods, increases physical activity and decreases exposure to tobacco products.

In October of 2017, rabbittransit partnered with York Fred Food Farms to activate the space around the transit centers with pop-up markets.  These markets gave residents and riders direct access to healthy food, and accept SNAP and EBT benefits.  Additionally, rabbittransit offered a retired vehicle to York Fresh Food Farms that was acquired by local funds.  This enabled the organization to create a mobile market and reach even more people in the community.

According to KaBOOM!, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing active play into the daily lives of children, there is a national play deficit in America.  Eat Play Breath York and rabbittransit sought to address this by creating a playful bus shelter.  With the help of a grant from KaBOOM!, rabbittransit worked to identify a suitable location for the play bus structure outside a traditional farmers market.  The bright shelter space houses colorful elements the bring play to children who might not otherwise have time or access to play during their daily routine.  An additional playful bus shelter is in the works near a senior community.

Every year, on the third Thursday of November, tobacco smokers across the country participate in the Great American Smoke Out.  This event is a daylong abstinence from smoking. A creative engagement tool used by rabbittransit partnered with WellSpan Healther to launch the “Four for You Fare” program.  Riders were given the opportunity to pay for their fairs with four unused cigarettes.

“At rabittransit, we understand that public transportation is a social determinant of health,” said Jenna Reedy, Chief of Staff at Central Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.  By bolstering access to healthy food, air and play rabbittransit has shown a commitment to enhance the conversation around public health.