Monday, July 15, 2019

A Step Up

"Yesterday they said it was a second bus, so I tried it this morning.  Sure enough, I slept in a little and even had time to bring a lunch," said the man catching the 6am bus to work for the first time.  The early morning light of Spring illuminated our mutual joy.   He normally caught the bus at 5:30am but because of increased frequency on his route, he was afforded 30 minutes in his day.  He used that extra time for two health-promoting activities: rest and preparing lunch for work.

Increased frequency in bus service reduces travel times and frees up time in the schedule of riders to do other productive things.  The study I helped design for the Winston Salem State University Center for the Study of Economic Mobility found that "Employed bus riders spend 8.7 hours more a week in commuting time than equivalent workers taking vehicles. That averages to lost wages of $4,350 per year."  A bus rider complained to me the other day that all the time lost in transit was like having a part-time job that didn't pay.

The WSSU study was conducted before increased frequency was started on 6 routes because of an NCDOT grant to mitigate the impact of Business 40 closing. During the week, I drive 4 of the 6 routes that have 30-minute frequency and I hear riders express their appreciation for the improved service.  The story above came from a modification that was made to service paid for by the NCDOT.   That morning as I pondered how increased frequency had helped his health status I was also struck by how word of mouth was the best way to communicate with passengers.

As I thought about how he had said, "They told me yesterday, so I tried it today," it made me wonder who I had told about our improved service.  Because it was the first week of route modifications and having the fresh idea that word of mouth was the best way to disseminate information to bus riders, I made an announced later that day on a different route that also got improved frequency.  I let the riders on my bus know that there was now a second bus on their route and they would have 30-minute frequency. The overwhelmingly positive response from the riders blew me away.   One rider said, "Now that is a step up!"  

The banner below is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it highlights how increased public transportation improves social determinants of health.   I witness those health improvements from behind the wheel and I pray that our community will continue the expanded service even after Business 40 opens.  

1 comment:

  1. Great, positive impact for the community of Winston Salem!!!