At the September 4th City Council meeting, public transportation was the main topic of discussion. One little known term introduced that evening was “last mile,” a transit term that refers to the difficulties people without transportation have getting from a bus stop to their home. Or in the case of “first mile,” getting to a bus stop or hub.
Car owners rarely think twice about how we get from here to there, whether it’s raining or blistering hot, or even if we might not get to work on time. But bus riders often have multiple obstacles getting from here to there, and some of those obstacles are downright dangerous. In 2016, over 7% of Greensboro households did not have access to any vehicles [Governing.com, a publication of eRepublic.com].
As Councilwoman Michelle Kennedy noted at that City Council meeting, public transportation is a critical component of economic justice. And as the problems associated with climate change will soon be too big to ignore, it is also a critical component of environmental sustainability which, unfortunately, is not discussed enough at City Council meetings. Still it was good to get more conversation going about mass transit.
If you’d like to watch the video footage related to the public transit discussion between Adam Fisher, Transportation Director, and City Council members: go to http://greensboro.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=3723, click on “Play” and set the time stamp at 1:09:55.
Below is a transcription of some of that exchange.
MK [Michelle Kennedy]: “… and what are the last mile provisions that have been considered or are being considered to implement as part of that [larger plan].”
AF [Adam Fischer]: “That’s an excellent point and question. It’s something that we continue to explore. The last mile provisions, one is, yeah, on your own two feet in walking and that ties to our ultimate plan to hopefully build sidewalks everywhere that folks need to walk. And actually our number one priority on our sidewalk prioritization list, we actually have transit routes now that do not have sidewalks along them, so we’re trying to add one, and that’s the highest priority on our list, are major corridors, major transit routes, to add those sidewalks and then to spread those on out where people have to walk additional distances.”
MK: “But there’s something that’s got to come outside of GTA [Greensboro Transit Authority] that helps finish off that last mile provision, that doesn’t fall to y’all to do, that’s something falls into a different category.”
AF: “But we try to help with that by providing, transportation department does implement the sidewalk program and plans for that. There’s some of the private sector things coming around with the Lime bikes that folks can possibly ride out to the bus…the bus cannot go down every street in front of everybody’s doorways.”
YJ [Yvonne Johnson, Mayor Pro Tem]: “They have scooters. I saw scooters recently. Well that doesn’t help a mother with a little child walking a mile.”
MK:”…a lot of us [City Council members] have been having conversations about this. I see transit as a critical component of economic justice. And that we have some big responsibilities on our plates to figure out how supporting GTA and that connectivity marries into the economic justice goals and economic development goals that we set as a City Council…”