I took down a tweet that was getting a lot of traction for reasons I want to explain here. This whole phenomenon and the complex politics around it, deserves more than microblogging.
It all started when I linked to this article in the LA Times/Daily Pilot about local elected officials participating in the "Week Without Driving" challenge. Costa Mesa Councilwoman Arlis Reynold said, "I haven't been on a bus in, like, 30 years."
On the fifth day of Reynolds’ week without driving, the councilwoman was joined by Mayor John Stephens, Thomas and transportation services manager Jennifer Rosales.I tweeted at how awful it was that elected officials who vote on transit issues don't use it.
Stephens, who’s lived in Costa Mesa for 30 years but cannot recall ever taking the bus, said he was stunned to learn how many denizens rely on the local transit system.
“I was surprised that [buses] were pretty well packed with people,” he [Stephens] said Tuesday. “We don’t usually walk through the neighborhood like this when we don’t have campaign literature in our hands — whenever you do something like this you become more aware.”Earlier this year, I read Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives by Jarrett Walker. I borrowed an electronic version from the public library and highly recommend it. Jarrett Walker's Human Transit Blog is also good for learning more.
Reynolds, who officially concluded her week without driving last Sunday, is already thinking of improvements for transit riders, first by evaluating all the city’s bus stops to ensure they meet the same standards and adding vital shade and seating where they are currently lacking. And that’s just the beginning.
“I’m interested in looking at broader routes. What I haven’t done is zoom out and see the whole network,” she said in a debriefing Tuesday. “I think there’s an assumption transit can never work in Orange County, but, actually, it could.
“I’m two days past the campaign, and I’m walking still.”