When transit became harder to use

This all sucks. So first off—I hope you’re well. I hope that wherever you and your family, biological and chosen, are, you’re safe. I hope you see some hope in this time.

This sucks particularly for transit. Trains and buses and vans and shared transportation in general did not need social distancing, but rather a paradigm shift towards social inclusivity. In the ideal 2020, we came together, built great infrastructure that made transit easy to use, and shared space because we recognized that space isn’t unlimited and being close to one another is a blessing and an opportunity to enjoy community safely. Instead, for very good reasons, we all need more space right now, and the shared space we inhabit is going increasingly online, without the need for transportation.

But life in the cloud isn’t what we want long-term. Just because transit use should be limited today, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be building infrastructure to make it easier to access now and in the future. Some folk need transit today to perform their essential jobs that keep us all healthy, and we’re all going to need to get out of the house one day. We can be ready to venture out by transit when we do. Indeed—there is hope to find in this opportunity we now have to make transit easier to use than ever, in the future.

High quality transit information is more important today than ever

The last thing a nurse or doctor or super market super hero or patient needing dialysis or mother needing groceries needs right now is bad information on transit that confuses them, makes them late for their shift, or leads to standing in public for longer than needed. Disruptions like we’re seeing are exactly why we need high quality GTFS and GTFS-rt.

Clean air is good for us, and we get it when we reduce driving miles

As cars have come off the road in the last few weeks, we’ve seen cleaner air in cities than we have in years. This is a demonstration that cannot be denied: when we reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT), the result is cleaner air. We know clean air yields positive health outcomes, and now we have further proof that reducing VMT works.

Social transformation and collective action are possible and happening

Anyone who believes that massive social change is impossible is now clearly wrong. In the face of an unspeakable tragedy, literally billions of people have changed how they live, over the course of a few days. That just happened.

The threat posed to humanity by climate change—and the damage already done everyday in our society to people with disabilities, low-income folk, BIPOC and queer Americans and non-Americans alike—is also superlatively unspeakable. These tragedies are already recognized by so many who work tirelessly against them. We need merely ensure that others understand these tragedies, and then collective action is not only possible, it is inevitable. Some few sociopaths aside, people are good. People are social. People help when presented with a clear and valuable mission.

So it may be harder for transit today, but do not give up hope. We will make transit easier to use, invest in tomorrow, and we will survive and flourish together after COVID-19 and after climate change.

If you’re one of our clients and need help communicating route changes, cancellations, and disruptions to your riders—reach out to [email protected] and let us know. We’ve been offering extra data tech and alert management support for the last week and continue to be ready to assist if you’re short-staffed.