Sunday, October 20, 2019

Route Ride Per Hour Ratio

The Winston-Salem Transit Authority is on course to provide over 2.5 million rides in 2019. That is a big number that can be hard to grasp.  Breaking it down by route helps it add up.

I became a bus driver to experience first hand the power of public transportation and to help me understand the complex system.  As I drive around I have been thinking of a measure to use in comparing routes.  I came to the idea of using a ratio that compares ridership per hour of service.

 Table 1: WSTA ridership per route for September 2019.
RouteDTNSDRides% RidesHrs% HrsRides/Hrs
D = Cardinal Direction | T = Type (Circular, Cross Town, Linear) | NSD = N Service Days
^ = has 2nd bus | * = 2nd Bus Funded by NCDOT B40

You can see that some of the routes are very popular and others are quiet.

I believe you can use this type of information to advocate for second buses on popular routes like 92 and 96.  For example I think the Place Matters Initiative should push for a second bus on route 96 that runs through their impact communities.  I have driven it and could feel the importance of the bus in those places.

What interesting things do you see in this information? 

This analysis is available on the web. The data was provided by the Winston-Salem Transit Authority in an email from the General Manager on 10/10/19.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Come join me in sweeping up cigarette butts at the transit center on Sunday, October 27 at 7:15 PM.

This volunteer effort will reduce second hand smoke residue and improve the appearance of our city. I am inviting you as a fellow citizen who cares about our community and public transportation. The transit center is not in use on Sunday evenings. Please bring any tools or broom you plan to use. I will have a broom, dust pan, rake, and trash bags.

There are many butts that are lodged in every crack and crevice. The volume of discarded butts overwhelms the regular cleaning crew's ability to sweep them all up. The more hands that volunteer to sweep the deeper the clean the transit center will receive.

Please come in a spirit of service and joy in being a part of progress within our community.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Strong and Weak

Community building requires a paradoxical mix of strength and weakness. Andy Crouch in his book describes the paradox in a 2 x 2 chart that depicts the need for increased authority and increased vulnerability to create flourishing. As I read the book a second time I see this paradox at work within public transportation.  I witness the benefits and the constraints that riding the bus has in the life of our community.  I see the urgent need to improve the public transit system as a means to improve economic mobility.

My own authority comes to mind when I realize it’s a privilege to choose my vocation and have the financial security to take risks professionally. The book defines true authority as “the capacity for meaningful action.” I am lately more grateful for how I am able to learn new skills and take on a challenge. I see passengers exercising their authority through acts of kindness and mutual support of fellow riders. I see their fortitude and resilience as they daily ride in a system that affords few amenities. I see how an infrequent and often unreliable system subjugates riders robbing them of authority.

Crouch defines vulnerability as "exposure to meaningful risk." Becoming a bus drivers has caused me to be afraid and out of my comfort zone, or vulnerable. It causes me to be grateful for the passengers who have come to my aid with the reassurance they have given me. I see exposure to risk in the suffering of the young and frail in the toxic environment of the transit center full of second-hand smoke and oil spills. I see the anxiety of passengers when connections are missed, causing them to be late for jobs that are not sympathetic to the whims of the system.  I hear their complaints about routes that don't have weekend service constraining them to either being stranded altogether or using costly alternatives to reach low-paying jobs.

I recommend Peter Crouch's book Strong and Weak because of its penetrating look at community flourishing. You will likely be shocked to learn that the act of withdrawing is the cruel opposite of flourishing.  In Winston-Salem, we must see bus riders' suffering and stop exploiting them from our privileged car-centric perspective.  We must invest in public transportation as a community asset, thereby promoting community development and economic mobility as a social justice issue, so that more of our residents can flourish.