Monday, April 07, 2014

To drive or not to drive

As I was weaving my way through the streets on Vanderbilt's campus to get to the Panera where I have multiple meetings scheduled today, I began to ponder just why I drove today.  Two hours before, as I was eating breakfast, I read about opposition to a proposed Bus Rapid Transit system in Nashville (The AMP), and I became frustrated with people who don't see the importance of Nashville having good public transportation options.  Then, when it came time to head to work, my first thought was how glad I was that the places I was going today had free parking lots, and that even if they were full, I could probably find some free two hour parking on the street.  Yes, the prevalance of parking made more of an impact on my decision to drive than anything else, even the threat of rain throughout the day.  Whereas I could have easily ridden Bus #3 or #5 and been dropped off within a 10 minute walk of all the places where I would meet with people today, the thought didn't cross my mind until I was frustrated by the weaving streets in and around Vanderbilt.  Even as I wag my finger at public transportation haters, I realize that my own mindset needs an adjustment.  

It might be time to change the way we talk about public transportation in a city like Nashville.  Instead of relying on tropes like, "Good cities have good public transportation," we might help people think about the actual logistics of riding the bus, or the future bus rapid transit, including the cost and the timing of it all.  Maybe all the people with Yes AMP! signs in their yards need to renew their commitment to riding the bus more often, or even every day for awhile so as to better address folks with questions.  Who knows?  Taking that simple step might actually raise some questions that haven't been asked.

As for me, now that spring is here (mostly), I'm hoping to make more of a commitment to riding the bus or my bike when possible, even if it means leaving earlier, or not getting home as immediately as I'd like.