Public transportation has been a topic in the media lately here in Huntsville. The main question that is being asked is, “Given the surge in gas prices, why hasn’t Huntsville seen the jump in public transportation participation that other major cities have seen?” Great question. Many current local political leaders and many candidates running for office (It is an election year) are discussing this question. I wonder if any of them have tried using the Huntsville Shuttle?
A few of the readers of this blog know that I have tried getting to and from work using public transportation on two separate occasions (Ride the Bus and Dump the Pump are previous posts that describe my past experiences). A fraternity brother that reads my blog told a local news reporter about me and the bus. They wanted to do a story. I got a call Thursday from the news reporter, and she asked if they could film me riding the bus and interview me on Friday. I agreed, and this is the news spot that was created.
Like all news reports, the whole story was not accurately portrayed. The report makes it sound like I ride the bus all the time. The truth is, this was only my third time in three months. I hope that I have not disrespect those in the community that strictly rely on the bus to get around. A more objective look at the bus system should also include interviews with regular riders – not just interested outsiders like me. I hope my experiences have raised awareness to a problem that, if dealt with properly, could significantly improve the quality of life for many residents of this community. I also have a message to the political leaders – Ride the bus. Get to know the problem you are discussing. Get to know the people that are regular riders. Get their opinions, not just those of your removed-from-reality cohorts.
Like I said in the interview, the bus system is a good service provided by our community, but it really falls short of being an effective alternative to driving. Huntsville can do better than this.
Other notes from the trip:
- I got soaked walking home from the bus stop yesterday afternoon. You gotta love the pop-up thunderstorms in the South. I should have packed an umbrella.
- Bennett and I had a great discussion on the ride/walk to work. We discussed how the constraints and characteristics of this community are self-selecting to those that choose to move here. We are a low-tax, high individual rights community (Our houses all have high fences and the majority of the people will not give up the freedom that comes with driving their own automobile). So, when we have a big industry boom like we have now with BRAC, the ones that choose to move here will be the ones looking for low taxes and high individual freedom – not the urbanites looking to live more enmeshed in a community. More on this topic later.
- In the interview, I meant to say “living alternatively” not “living an alternative lifestyle”, which has its own connotation. A lot of people picked up an that phrase and have had a good laugh about it – Including the wife of the associate pastor at church that emailed me and said she supports “Bennett and I in our alternative lifestyle living (with a J)”. Lesson learned – when speaking to the media, keep your message simple. It is kinda funny though.