What, Me Ride the Bus?
The current pressing issues for Capital Metro are revealed in the 11 substantive questions submitted by the selection committee of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to applicants for CAMPO's vacant position on the Capital Metro board. The meaty questions delve into issues such as the transit agency's mission, its core constituency and service area, and regional cooperation among organizations, incorporating rail transit, funding challenges, and "labor difficulties."
What follows are the applicants' slightly condensed responses to one interesting walk-the- talk question.
Would you be willing to use public transportation as your major mode of commuting for one year (home to work and work to home – not for nonwork time)? And, also be willing to ask that Capital Metro's upper management do the same?
Norm Chafetz: I'm originally from Chicago and relied exclusively on public transportation for my daily commute when I worked there. I used bus, rapid rail, and commuter rail. Currently, I perform most of my work in a home-based office environment. [But if] I would need to commute to Downtown Austin, I would definitely use public transportation as my primary mode. I live in Anderson Mill, just a few miles from either the Pavilion Park & Ride and the Northwest Park & Ride facilities.
I would also encourage Capital Metro management to use public transportation whenever feasible. If not feasible for them to do so for their commute, then I would encourage them to make time to ride a bus at least a few times a month and to record their experience. This was a policy when I worked at Houston Metro, and I think it helped to improve system performance.(Download and read Norm Chafetz's full response to all the questions here.)
Paul Hamilton: Yes! This is something I've been doing for some time. I've always seen the personal value in incorporating public transit and my bicycle as part of my commute solution. Late last summer, Aug. 15 to be exact, I made a personal commitment to expand the number of days I used these alternatives from two to three per week to full time.
My personal goal began as a way to commute 50 miles round trip and still only fill up my vehicle once a month; since making that decision, I have stayed true to my commitment. With summer weather and increased daylight, allowing more and earlier bicycle departure times, I last filled up my vehicle on May 1. I've definitely dumped the pump!
Yes, I support asking Capital Metro management to do the same. There is value in the message that riding your own system sends to operations (dispatch, drivers, and mechanics). Additionally, it is difficult to truly know the quality of the equipment or the service you've put on the street if you don't use that service on a regular basis.(Download and read Paul Hamilton's full response to all the questions here.)
Mike Manor: With adequate, efficient, sufficient, appropriate, affordable, accessible, alternative options and accommodations for the schedule and travel necessities required of me, my answer is yes, not only home to work and work to home, but also nonwork time.
As for upper management doing the same, my answer is yes. I have no problem with "asking," as long as this would be made neither explicitly nor implicitly a requirement. In my thinking, public transportation is about choice and options, including nonuse. The opportunity is to make it so "user friendly" to all community members, there would be no need to ever ask the question to anyone.
John Trube: I work from home and am a big supporter of telecommuting. Anyone in upper management or any other position within a transit agency should be encouraged, as well as incentivized, to utilize the transit system in which they have decided to invest themselves.