To me, there were so many reasons not to own a cell phone. The least of which is my frustration of being stuck behind somebody on the road who is paying more attention to their phone call than their driving. Yet finally, after much chastising from family and friends, who felt it important for me to have one “just in case,” I relented less than two years ago.
Going to the store to buy a cell phone was a sad day, because to me cell phones will always be a nuisance. However, in the last two years, I have been in emergency situations where it paid to have one. For example, when my car was blindsided by another driver, who fled the scene, I was able to call the police, and the offender was located. There are also countless stories in the news of people involved in serious life and death situations where their cell phones came in handy.
In response to Friday's Green Line crash, Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is banning its bus, train and subway operators from using cell phones, iPods or paging devices while on duty. The ban even goes as far as disallowing operators from even carrying these devices. Operators who violate the new zero tolerance policy will be immediately suspended, with a recommendation for dismissal.
While I completely believe that using a phone while driving a vehicle is stupid and dangerous — and even more so when it is a heavy vehicle, such as a trolley, that has the potential to cause serious damage, not to mention kill hundreds of passengers — I can’t help but think that it may be a violation of MBTA operators’ personal rights. What’s going to happen when an operator is in an emergency situation (business or personal)? What do they do? When you ban something, there are always extenuating circumstances that make it seem as if it may be going a little too far. Do you think MBTA’s outright ban goes too far?
It drives me nuts when people litter. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people throw trash out of their car windows while they’re driving. I’m always tempted to honk my horn when I see drivers slyly ditching cigarette butts through their open window. Listen up, people. We see you!
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.