Richard Hankins ’13 shares his story of advocacy and passion for public transportation in RVA
Richard Hankins ’13
returned to Trinity to speak in Chapel on the morning of Monday, October 24. Hankins shared the story of his career path from a geographic information systems (GIS) major at the University of Miami to his current role as a public-transit advocate working for the local nonprofit RVA Rapid Transit
. Hankins was featured in the Miami Herald
for the 24-hour bus marathon he and a colleague made in 2018 to document the good, the bad and the ugly of the public transit system in Miami.
“Even in the most walkable neighborhoods in America, not owning a car bars you from so many job opportunities, grocery stores, pharmacies, and I don’t think that’s right,” said Hankins. “My thesis in life for my work is that no one should be a second-class citizen because they don’t have a car.”
As part of his motivation for this work, Hankins cited a 2012 study by the Brookings Institute
that ranked Richmond 92nd out of the top 100 metropolitan areas in terms of transit giving access to people for jobs. Hankins then shared recordings of stories told by actual riders
of the Richmond area’s buses to illustrate the challenges they face. “So many people want to work these jobs that will help them get out of poverty and gain upward mobility, he said, “but they can’t because they can’t afford a car, and the bus doesn’t go where the jobs are.”
Another of his organization’s aims is to encourage local transit authorities to provide dedicated places to wait with dignity for a bus. “Only 5% of the stops have shelters, and only 20% have benches,” he said, “and for the elderly and disabled, that’s really hard for them.”
He concluded by encouraging all students who live near where GRTC is served to try taking the bus. “I promise you it’s not as scary or jarring as it might seem to be,” he said.
Brian Griffen, school chaplain, concluded the Chapel by thanking Hankins for being such a strong ambassador of Trinity’s values of neighborliness and altruism. “On behalf of all Titan Nation, we want to say just how proud we are of you and your work,” said Griffen. “In this Chapel, you really showcased the IB Learner Profile and what it means to be a global citizen.”