Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A "transit-riding superhero" * Turns 40 Thursday

Yup, I'm turning 40 in a couple of days --I was shocked reading All Over Albany last week to find that my 40th is within just a few days of the 40th birthday of a Capital Region celebrity of sorts. I think I'm old enough now and I'm certainly bold enough now to ask for a few gifts. Do what you can, for me, k?

[*Note: the title "transit-riding superhero" is thanks to the very good folks at All Over Albany]

Wish List - Drivers

Hey Drivers,
This is coming from someone who really enjoys driving. You're operating a vehicle, moving from one place to another so please...

1. Share the road with bicyclists. I think we have enough ghost bikes in our region.

2. Respect pedestrians. About a month after I started my no-driving experiment, I came within inches of being hit while crossing a Central Avenue intersection with my daughter (we were on our way to a bus stop and then to a rental car company to pick up a car) . The driver who was making a left turn onto Central at a green light was extremely apologetic. He got out of his car, and ran across the busy street (almost getting hit himself) to be sure we were ok. However, not all drivers are as concerned about pedestrians' well-being.

3. Along the same lines as 2, above. Turning on red (right on red or left from a one-way to a one-way), is not a free pass to simply slow down to 5 or 3 or even 1 mph and slowly coast through an intersection. The light is still red. Red still means stop. Completely stop. Oh, yeah... and before you pull ahead, be sure the coast is clear.

Wish List - CDTA
CDTA, I feel like I'm your big sister, two years older than you, I'm holding your hand and pulling you along. While, I certainly have a long list of wishes for you -- below are the top 3 items on my wish list.

1. Improve the abysmal Sunday service . It looks like you recognize the need for improvements as Monday's article about your proposal to re-vamp Schenectady's service pointed out,

" 'There are certain routes on our system that don't stop after 6 or 7 p.m., and some don't run on Sundays,' said spokeswoman Margo Janack. 'People who may want to attend religious services, people who want to shop after work at night or catch some entertainment somewhere -- they may not be able to do that by bus because the service doesn't extend that far or run for that long.'

The current hours also often fall short for people who work night and weekend shifts."

Eureka! You do see that those of us without cars need to get around on Sundays too! Yes, funding is tight, but this is the state's Capital Region and it is certainly reasonable to expect good transit service seven days per week, at least once per hour in each direction from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.

2. Post schedules at all stops and shelters so we know when to expect a bus. It seems that a year ago there were many more schedules posted. Recently, sleeker shelters were installed and nobody bothered to re-post schedules. If funds aren't available in your budget to pay staff to do the posting, this seems like a project that could be accomplished by volunteer bus riders and/or partnerships with volunteers from local non-profits.

3. Follow up with riders' complaints. I know I've called the customer information line to complain at least one time since the posting of the Complaint Process flow chart dated September 2007, provided my name and phone number and said, "I'd like someone to call me back with information." I never received a phone call back. In addition to the flow chart, you also state in the How To Ride section of the site, "We will investigate your complaint and report back to you in writing within 10 working days." Do what you say.

Wish List for Regional Planners, Politicians and other Transit-related Decision Makers

Hey folks, it's great that Albany is now working on our first-ever Comprehensive Plan, and excellent that the TU has started the Capital Region at a Crossroads series and blog -- now let's get something done. Here are my suggestions:

1. Make life easier for those that tread lightly on the environment: (i) give us bike lanes across the cities and throughout the region, (ii) enforce sidewalk shoveling ordinances in the winters to keep our sidewalks clear of snow and ice, and (iii) invest in sidewalks in areas where there are none.

2. Be good to my younger sibling, CDTA. Invest in transit and transit-oriented development - let's face it - transit is part of the solution for today's fiscal and energy realities. And bring me something faster than buses to get from city to city to city to city, and from the cities to some of our beautiful outlying areas.

3. Let's start a non-profit car sharing company. I really think non-profit is the way to go -- check out why Austin went non-profit with Austin Car Share and even little Ithaca, NY launched a non-profit car sharing company this past June!

... and maybe I'll see you on the bus.

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