Kent County’s transit millage is just around the corner, again amidst soaring gas prices. Déjà Vu? Not really. This transit proposal is new and different from the last. The outcomes of this investment will lead us to a tipping point – the moment when The Rapid will deliver routes and schedules robust enough to make riding The Rapid a more feasible part of our daily lives.
Increasing prices for route services and gasoline chip away at a couple of key barriers keeping West Michiganders in their vehicles. But one key issue remains: You. Changing our habits, learning a new system, making different transportation choices – this is the nut we have to crack and it’s hard work.
At a recent meeting of activists, a seasoned Rapid rider shared her informal efforts to train a few friends in Rapid Ridership. This citizen’s engagement strategy simultaneously impressed me and struck a chord. We’ve been experimenting with behavior change models at WMEAC, recognizing that the solutions to our biggest environmental challenges – global warming, the protection of fresh water – often require small, incremental changes in the lifestyles of many people and families. Over time, these changes aggregate, creating a collective and massive impact.
It takes some gusto and motivation to make those first couple of trips on the Rapid, but few regret their first transit adventure. Most discover that public transportation pays dividends after just a few rides. Riders like me benefit from walking more, reading more, saving money and meeting people they would otherwise would not discover. Like most green lifestyle changes, one’s day suddenly becomes more intentional, better managed and less frantic with public transportation.
Some people might tell you to vote first, and only then follow up by designing your strategy to get on the bus. My recommendation is the opposite: Challenge yourself to take a ride on the bus first. As a result, your vote will fully reflect your commitment on May 3rd.
In anticipation of our upcoming vote on transit services, I will take a cue from my transportation trainer friend and help people prepare for the opportunity to change their lives for the better. Please join me in sharing your tips and tricks for transit over the coming month.
We’re all wheels on the bus and its time to roll, folks. Mark your calendar to vote on May 3rd. Then schedule your first transit adventure on a convenient day in April. We have to do more than just vote for public transportation – we have to get on board.
Things you’ll need for your first trip out:
– A visit to www.ridetherapid.org
– $3.00 fare (two trips)
– Weather-appropriate gear
– Good shoes
– A rapid route bus map (available on the bus for .50c)
– Two hours to kill
– A magazine or book
– Your smile
– Optional: A tasty beverage