“We can all be activists”: Patty Fedewa

Ask anyone close to TRU, and they likely know Patty Fedewa. Patty has been a staunch transit advocate for over 20 years, and a TRU affiliate since 2001. Patty carries a powerful voice in the Detroit transit community, speaking out against fare increases and service disruptions. She was even President of TRU in 2007. As TRU celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, we want to highlight amazing advocates like Patty, and illustrate the sustained impact TRU members have.

Patty speaks on TRU history at the 2020 State of Transit

Patty Fedewa cares so much about transportation equity partly because she uses it. While she occasionally uses rideshare or borrows her husband’s car, for her personal commute, Patty either catches DDOT or rides her bike. She has been without her own car since 2009, and consistently riding “since 2001”. Patty mostly prefers the bus, due to its unique sense of community

Riding the bus is a good place to be! It opens you up to this whole other ‘neighborhood’ nobody talks about. There is just something exciting about being on the bus”, Patty details. Transit is also a family affair in the Fedewa house. Patty’s daughter, Lydia, has been riding the bus since she was 3 weeks old, proudly telling family and friends “I ride the Dexter!”. 

Being a labor relations attorney, Patty is accustomed to standing up against structural issues. She heard about TRU through meeting founder Karen Hands, and started work with TRU’s citizen action committee, Rider’s Voice. Comprised of many early TRU affiliates, Rider’s Voice was Patty’s first step into transit advocacy, and sparked over a decade of action. 

Patty, with a much younger Lydia, at the 2013 Regional Transit Awards

“When we fought against the DDOT fare increases in 2001, we were still learning the ‘process’ of TRU. We [Rider’s Voice] would meet, then show up at city council hearings to complain.” Even though the fare increase passed, with it came momentum, and Rider’s Voice kept holding City Council accountable. And even though Rider’s Voice has become inactive, it’s spirit still holds true with Patty. 

“The thing is, we can all be activists”, Patty elaborates. “Being a presence and having a voice, it prevents harm. Even when you fail, advocacy shows that this issue is still important.” 

‘My community is more than a car’- Transit matters to Patty!

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