Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ride Bus, Make Friends (COOL Lent: 2008)

5 Minutes of Caring: Ride Bus, Make Friends

How do you ride the bus when there is no bus service in your area? This is a question that I've struggled with as a "suburb" dweller. We live far enough away from metro centers that the city bus lines don't run to us (yet.) Still, these growing suburban and exurban areas are where most people are moving - thus increasing our dependence on cars and fossil fuels.

I used to live in a suburb of Minneapolis. Suburbs in Minneapolis set themselves up in a "ring" around the city. I had access to several express buses on which to ride as I made my way to work downtown. It was great - riding the bus was even faster than driving due to traffic and parking.

Enter suburban Ohio - where cities, townships and counties are still coming up to speed that it is in their best interest to cooperate to offer public transit. Within the counties there are various services for the elderly and physically/mentally disabled - but they aren't very interested in crossing county lines to transport their clients. For the majority of people in this area having their own car is the only viable option.

In my work with homeless families one of key factors in the cycle of poverty is transportation - or more appropriately the lack of affordable transportation. By limiting the reach and scope of mobility for poor people they have very little ability to break out of their locality to seek education, training or job opportunities.

While local municipalities and the counties in the area are working on transportation options it still seems that they are focused on a very small scope - their towns, their counties, etc. There may be, even if I'm not aware of it, a regional transportation plan that would connect the various communities and provide access to the hub cities of Dayton and Cincinnati.

I'm encouraged to look into this, especially as I'm part of a chamber of commerce leadership group for young professionals. This group is very aware of their changing community and are interested in working on solutions that reach far into the future for their well being and that of their children and beyond.

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