Last week when the Icelandic volcano erupted, making the skies un-navigable and canceling flights all over Europe, many travelers were able to quickly shift gears and get on a train.
There were, of course, many inter-continental trip delays and some small inconveniences. A relative of mine from L.A., who is on vacation in London right now, had his flight to Paris canceled, so he ended up not going. Serves him right for not taking my suggestion to use the Eurostar. Still, he had the option to get there if he had changed his mind.
I couldn’t help thinking, as I listened to the news, how much more convenient it would be not only if we had a similar rail system in the U.S. but also if we were more conditioned to actually use it. A recent NPR story talked about how many Europeans are big train-takers anyway and automatically flocked to the rail stations. Maybe I am being cynical, but I don’t see Americans doing that, at least not in most parts of the country.
I know that the Northeastern region of the U.S. is more set up for high-speed rail than the rest of the country, and that there are already several alternative and public transportation options many Americans just don’t think to use. Living in L.A. the past few years has really driven that point home for me.
Obviously, a U.S. high-speed rail and the attendant feeder transit systems won’t be in place anytime soon. I just hope that by the time they are, we Americans can change our thinking and actually take advantage of the system we will have invested in so heavily.
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.