Celebrating Women’s Pioneering Roles in Transit, SMART Launches Inspirational Bus Wraps for Women’s History Month

Women play a crucial role in society and deserve recognition all year round, but March holds a special significance for honoring and elevating the remarkable achievements of women making significant strides. In Metro Detroit, the transportation sector continues to expand, with increasing initiatives geared towards enhancing mobility. Yet, the backbone of public transportation remains its dedicated drivers. This month, we turn the spotlight on the women who navigate our city’s routes, celebrating their invaluable contributions and giving them the recognition they richly deserve.

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) has unveiled an innovative bus wrap campaign to celebrate Women’s History Month, paying homage to the indelible contributions of women in the transit industry. This initiative not only acknowledges the pivotal roles these women have played but also seeks to inspire future generations to explore careers within the transit and transportation sectors.

Tiffany Gunter, Deputy General Manager of SMART, emphasized the significance of this campaign: “It is essential to recognize the profound impact of these leaders’ contributions on the transit industry and society as a whole,” Gunter remarked. She further explained the initiative’s goals, stating, “By featuring their stories, SMART aims to inspire future generations of leaders, particularly women, to pursue careers in transit and transportation.”

The campaign shines a spotlight on eight trailblazing women from various facets of the transit world, whose stories will be featured on SMART buses. These women have been instrumental in breaking barriers, leading significant transit entities, advocating for community rights, and advancing the cause of equity and inclusion within the industry.

Among the honorees are Shirley Delibero, known as the “Queen of Transit,” whose transformative leadership across multiple transit agencies has significantly impacted urban transportation from Boston to Houston. Sharon Banks broke new ground as the first African American and first woman to lead AC Transit in Oakland, California. Carmen Turner, celebrated for her role as the first Black general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, played a critical role in securing federal commitments that transformed public transportation in the Washington, D.C., area.

The campaign also honors Gwendolyn Warren, an advocate for community rights in Detroit, and Sommer Woods, who has been pivotal in promoting equity and inclusion within the transit industry. Amy O’Leary, Executive Director of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, is recognized for her contributions towards addressing diverse needs and promoting equity in economic development strategies. Nicole Brown, a board member of Transportation Riders United and Director of Strategic Partnerships at Detroit Future City, has made significant contributions to Detroit’s transit and community development. Mary Eatmon, one of Detroit’s first female bus drivers, paved the way for future generations of women in transit.

Gunter, reflecting on the broader impact of the campaign, stated, “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, SMART is proud to honor the achievements and contributions of these remarkable women who have blazed trails and inspired change in the transit industry. Their leadership, resilience and dedication serve as a beacon of inspiration for us all.”

She continued, emphasizing the importance of diversity and representation, “SMART’s campaign serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of diversity and representation within the transit workforce.” Gunter acknowledged the systemic barriers and challenges faced by these pioneers in a traditionally male-dominated field and underscored SMART’s commitment to fostering a more inclusive and equitable transit environment, “By elevating their stories, SMART reaffirms its commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable transit environment where all individuals, regardless of gender, race, or background, have the opportunity to thrive and succeed.”


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