Monday, February 24, 2020

Hotel 22

I am currently working as the night monitor for the seasonal homeless shelter, City With Dwellings.  We derive our name and mission from the beautiful passage of Isaiah 58.  I love the part that says:
...and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
Working with individuals experiencing homelessness has given me new gratitude for life and appreciation for the relative luxuries of homeownership.  Driving a city bus put me in contact with poverty in new ways and challenged me in how I look for ways to share that experience with others. I am eager to share the stories below.

Hotel 22 is a 24-hour bus in Silicon Vally, California. It is Valley Transit Authority Route 22 and a trip from East San Jose to Paloalto takes an hour and a half.  It got its name because homeless people ride it to seek shelter at night.

My dad heard about it on the radio and told me to look it up. I am so glad I did because I came across two great documentaries.

I was spellbound as I listened to the BBC's documentary podcast.  It made my heart hurt for the driver who is falling off the benefits cliff and trying not to lose hope.  More and more I realize that drivers deserve attention as much as passengers suffering from structural vulnerability and health inequalities. 
I also came across Elizabeth Lo's breathtaking documentary short film composed of experiences during a week of riding Hotel 22.  She captures an argument between passengers and it reminds me of the strife that can so quickly flare up as I monitor the homeless shelter.  The raw footage of human weariness is compelling.  It reminds me that we must See the Traveler if we want our light to shine like the noonday.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Making News

I pray that the newspaper article, "Scientist turned bus driver advocates for Winston-Salem passengers" helps improve public transportation locally.  I am grateful Scott Sexton wrote the story and I appreciate his skill as a writer.

On Monday, we went to City Hall to speak up for improved bus service.  You can see the video of our comments online.  If you want to skip to the comments, below are the list of time points:

  • Minute 54 - Phillip opens with a challenge to the council to consider how privatization keeps the system at an arm's length. 
  • Minute 60 - Luke shares a brilliant summary of the CSEM Rider Study
  • Minute 68 - Brian shares a passionate personal testimony and plea for the city to do better 
  • Minute 70 - Ray closes with a call to improve bus service as we aspire to be a city
  • Minute 77 - City Council Member Dan Besse thanks us for showing support and gives rebuttal. 
Please follow Council Member Besse's invitation to come to the Public Works Committee meeting on March 17 at 6pm to comment on proposed service changes.

Editors note on 3/4/20 Public Works committee was changed from 3/10 to 3/17.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Go to City Hall on February 17

Please join me at the public hearing of City Council at 7 pm on Monday, February 17th to speak up for public transportation.  The meeting will be in City Hall, 101 North Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.

Bus riders and advocates need to call for improved frequency of service.  Six routes enjoyed 30-minute frequency during the Business 40 Closure.  Currently, WSTA is planning on ending the service of those second buses on May 1st. 

Come speak up for expanded service across the entire public transportation system.  I hope that the service continues to expand and not be reduced.   You can see from the September ride per route ratio which routes will be affected. 

I believe that routes 92, 96, and 93, which provide service to the north and the east, deserve a second bus to improve their frequency from every hour to every 30 minutes.  Their ridership is currently 28, 26, and 21 rides per hour, respectively. 

Bus riders and advocates must speak up for the continued expansion of bus service as an economic mobility issue that has immediate community benefit.  Investing in public transportation is money well spent in an effort to develop our community and promote social justice.