#SOL17: ETHNN Transportation Committee Talk about Austin conference

I spoke at the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN) Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 28th. The focus of my talk was the Transportation Works conference in Austin by Texas Society of Independent Living Councils (TX SILC) that I attended at the start of March. I was a one of 30 selected as Consumer Advocates in Transportation, or CAT. I had already written a 1 3/4 page article about the conference on my Word Press. I was glad to see Leroy Sparrow, the VP of Tyler Transit in attendance, as well as our Transportation Committee Chairman, Kristy Range, who had formally invited me to speak, and of course, Christina Fulsom–the Director of ETHNN.

I started my talk by mentioning my day’s earlier errands and the bus routes that I’d taken. My day had begun with a visit to my University of Texas at Tyler counseling intern at the Andrews Center–a Blue SW (south) drop point after a Green North run to the Downtown Bus Hub. Then I took Blue SW (north) ride back until I reached S. Broadway at the Downtown Square. After a bank visit, I caught the Red South to Bergfeld Center, where I picked up my Asthma-COPD drugs from CVS Pharmacy. Bergfeld Center is the second bus hub in Tyler. I caught the Yellow SE bus to ETHNN Headquarters on Hightech DR near Shiloh & Paluxy. Yes, I took four out of five lines–all but Purple–and rode the bus five times. Alertly, Christina made notes of the time my errands actually took in addition to the lengthy time involved. I pointed out that I ate during wait times.

My focus was on the need for sidewalk repair; a transit trip needs to be “enjoyable, not just possible,” to cite a speaker at the conference. Since the conference, it was revealed that the City of Tyler made a sidewalk survey in 2010–in stark contrast to some city employee’s belief that the nearest landlord was supposed to repair sidewalks. Leroy brought up that a new sidewalk study had begun, but it could take a year to complete. Furthermore, the City of Tyler hired an agency to help with photographing the sidewalks after I’d suggested a cheaper, grass roots “foot soldier” report by citizens. I saw a video on Facebook after the conference, in which a lady complained about no sidewalks on well-to-do Rice RD, where she walking her dog.

One of my sidewalk suggestions was to remove the “no asphalt” law, especially in cases in which one sidewalk block becomes slightly raised–and easy to trip over. Moreover, sidewalks sometimes shrink because of the land–such as on Beckham at the bridge where Ferguson ends. Sidewalk crumbling isn’t always due to giant tree root growth.

We need to install bicycle racks at the two main bus hubs and next to Neighborhood Services. Moreover, a previous Tyler Transit director stated that the city had won some bike racks in a grant, so they must be in storage somewhere. It would be so easy to plunk a bike rack in those few key places while sidewalk repair could take quite a while. The Bergfeld Center’s bus stop bench has ample concrete-paved space behind it.

Eventually, we’ll schedule bus strips for the two remaining bus lines. In April, we’ll plan a Red South bus trip to the Broadway Mall for lunch at Chipotle’s (probably) and wander around a bit. Later, we’ll shoot for a Green South bus trip to restaurants in the UT-Tyler area. Hopefully, we’ll expand the trips to include more committees of ETHNN, and maybe head a different direction on the lines. Riding the bus represents a cultural change. Some acquaintances expressed fear of riding the bus–wondering if a poor, often minority crowd would attack. I responded that plenty of us are too old and disabled to cause much trouble. After the meeting, I told Kristi about folks visiting each other on the bus.

#SOL2017: The Texas State Independent Living Council Transportation Conference (TX SILC) Austin, TX: 2-28 through 3-2.

I was one of 30 people chosen statewide as a Consumer Advocate in Transportation (CAT) for the Texas State Independent Living Council’s (TX SILC),”Transportation Works: Identifying and Removing Barriers Through Innovation” conference in Austin from February 28th through March 2nd. Four of us from Tyler attended: two Cigna Health Spring employees, the city’s taxi cab director, and myself. I took a Greyhound Bus from Tyler to Austin that made a detour in Dallas, so that was a relevant adventure in itself.

One of the Cigna representatives, Kandee Franklin, nominated me for the event. I taught for 20 years before getting on disability for asthma & COPD. Then I started volunteering for the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN), especially the Transportation Committee. We have five bus lines in Tyler, and I’ve organized three or four bus trips with lunch. (One was poorly attended…lol). I’ve written several articles about the Tyler Transit on this Word Press site–including why the two bus hub structure works in a rectangular city, a good introduction to local bus riding. I’ve also written about Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome, dealing with a severe COPD exacerbation at home, and low saturated fat and sodium foods at Family Dollar. Thus, I’m still a researcher and now an event planner.

The conference began with several speakers from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Then there were speakers from various City of Austin organizations. Austin is well-known for its rapid recent growth, as well as its very progressive image. We heard from local Centers for Independent Living. Tyler has the East Texas Center for Independent Living (ETCIL), but there were no speakers from our local organization. I’m one of their clients; they helped me transition to an efficiency subsidized by the Tyler Neighborhood Services back in 2012. Cab companies, parking violations, share a ride, Uber, and Lyft were discussed. I met Brian White, the Director of TX SILC.

My favorite speech topics usually reflected my renewed goal of sidewalk repair and bike rack installation. Thus, “Accessible Transportation Collaboration and Developing Non-traditional Partnerships” program were among my favorites. I met Brian East, the Senior Attorney for Disability Rights Texas, before he gave his talk, “The ADA and Transportation Advocacy.” He thinks that I may have good chance of getting my street’s sidewalks repaired since it’s the east-west street that runs to the northern boundary of the Hospital District! Our newest bus line (Purple) runs down East Houston Street too.

I asked some questions during the conference and wrote 20 pages of notes. When I asked how to increase bus rider volume, the answer included “to make the bus trip not just possible but desirable.” Later I asked our city taxi cab manager, Jamal Moharer, to discuss their natural gas powered cars and other vehicles using it in Smith County.

I attended a Pulmonary and Cardiac Education (PACE) luncheon on Friday, March 3rd at Trinity Mother Francis hospital in Tyler. The organization used to be called The Better Breathers. We heard a lecture from a local doctor and got information on Advanced Planning. It turns out that our moderator nurse once tripped over a sidewalk block and broke her hand, tore her clothes, and spilled a drink on herself!

To summarize, I had a great time at the Transportation conference and met a lot of people. We stayed at the beautiful Midtown Holiday Inn in Downtown Austin. The meals were outstanding. Next year’s conference will be in Waco. When I got home, I found the most relevant page about sidewalk repair at the TX SILC website and emailed it to a bunch of people.

Transit Annotated Link Page, by J.D. Meyer

Member: Consumer Advocates in Transportation (CAT)

for Texas State Independent Living Council (TXSILC)

  1. http://www.capmetro.org/transitbenefits/    Savings, Health, & Green Wins. Here’s a great persuasive document about why one should consider riding the bus.
  1. http://www.capmetro.org/csac/   Consumer Satisfaction Action Cmte.  “The Customer Satisfaction Advisory Committee (CSAC) is comprised of 9 members who regularly use transit, and are appointed by the Capital Metro board of directors upon recommendation of the Capital Metro Chief Executive Officer.” Austin, TX

 

  1. http://www.capmetro.org/aac/   Access Advisory Cmte.  “The Access Advisory Committee is appointed by the board of directors to provide guidance and advice on how to better serve riders with special needs, such as customers with disabilities, language barriers, or other challenges to the normal riding experience.” Austin, TX
  2. https://asunow.asu.edu/content/transit-oriented-development-helps-cities-ease-gas  “Transit Oriented Development Cities Ease Gas, from Arizona State University—an article in a series about sustainable cities. Features that lead to more bus-riding: (1) short blocks, (2) intersections that are easy to cross, (3) short distances between destinations, (4) well maintained sidewalks, (5) lighting and other safety features, & (6) an aesthetically pleasing environment. {Much more info in this article!}

 

  1. https://maps.bts.dot.gov/arcgis/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=8aa7d21846524c09a1fbf72d89e9b38dHere’s a map of participating transit agencies in a national map. Dallas and Austin are among the participators. Tyler hasn’t joined.

 

  1. http://www.capmetro.org/uploadedfiles/Capmetroorg/Schedules_and_Maps/System_Map.pdf Austin Bus & Rail Map & Schedule.

 

  1. http://www.masstransitmag.com/press_release/12215879/jta-encourages-drivers-to-dump-the-pump-and-ride-public-transit Eleventh annual National Dump the Pump Day on Thursday, June 16.The Jacksonville, FL Transit Authority is a multiple award winner.

 

  1. http://www.masstransitmag.com/article/12244552/election-2016-which-outcomes-should-transit-fans-cheer-for Election 2016: “Which outcomes Should Transit Fans Cheer For?” The positions of Clinton vs. Trump & Democrats vs. Republicans are listed.

 

  1. https://ioby.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Trip-Final-090914.pdf “5 Projects Any Community Can Do To Improve the Transit Experience in 5 Easy Steps.” (11 pages).

 

  1. https://bohemiotx.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/tyler-tx-transits-two-bus-hubs-why-it-works-in-a-rectangular-cityintroduction-to-riding-the-bus/ “Tyler, TX Transit’s Two Bus Hubs: Why It Works in a Rectangular City/Introduction to Riding the Bus,” by J.D. Meyer. This essay includes a link to the main Tyler Transit map. Most of Tyler is considered “south.”

 

  1. https://bohemiotx.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/frequent-tyler-tx-bus-rider-survey-by-joffre-jd-meyer-midtown-resident/ “Frequent Tyler, TX Bus Rider Survey for a Midtown (Hospital District) Resident,” by J.D. Meyer. This question and answer essay is designed to help people read the bus map in my neighborhood.

 

  1. https://bohemiotx.wordpress.com/2015/05/24/frequent-tyler-tx-bus-rider-survey-answers-for-a-northside-resident/ “Frequent Tyler, TX Bus Rider for a Northside Resident,” by J.D. Meyer. Same format as the survey for Midtown.

 

 

Tyler, TX Transit’s Two Bus Hubs: Why It Works in a Rectangular City/Introduction to Riding the Bus

The Tyler Transit changed to a two bus hub structure a few years ago for its five lines; four meet downtown (210 E. Oakwood ST) at the central offices/train museum, and three meet at the Bergfeld Shopping Center (9th & Roseland). Tyler, TX is a rectangular city with most of its territory considered to be South Tyler. These are the five Tyler bus lines: Red (north-south), Blue (west), Green (east), Yellow (southwest-southeast), and Purple (north-south with east jog to Hospital District, aka. Midtown). https://www.cityoftyler.org/Departments/TylerTransit/MapandSchedules.aspx

The four bus lines at downtown are Red, Blue, Green, and Purple. Purple doesn’t go further north than downtown–unlike the other three. Thus, only three of the five bus lines run in small North Tyler: Red, Blue, and Green. The Red Line goes to the northern edge of the city. The three bus lines at Bergfeld Shopping Center–six to 13 minutes south of the Transit Depot–are Red, Yellow, and Purple. The Yellow Line doesn’t go further north than the Bergfeld Shopping Center. The Blue (west) and Green (east) Lines don’t meet at that southern hub. The Yellow Southwest goes to FRESH, an upscale branch of Brookshire’s Grocery Store. The Yellow Line Southeast goes to University of Texas at Tyler. The Green Line unites all three colleges: Texas College (north), Tyler Junior College (east-central), and UT-Tyler (far southeast).

The Red and Purple Lines usually run parallel to each other on Broadway–Tyler’s major street: a north-south street that runs its entire length. The Red Line’s southernmost point is the Carmike Shopping Center, while the Purple Line’s southernmost point is the new Cumberland Shopping Center in far south Tyler at the intersection of South Broadway and Loop 49. The Purple Line is the newest transit line in Tyler. It includes a twist to the east down E. Houston Street to S. Beckham–where the two hospitals are located–followed by a turn on E. 5th back towards the center of the city.

To conclude, the bus hub transit structure of Tyler, Texas makes sense because it’s a rectangular city with most of its land in the south. A circular city would benefit from one big hub in the center. I was motivated to write this article as a response to a friend’s nostalgia for the one bus hub era. Plus, you got to do something for the National Day on Writing, especially if you taught English!

Frequent Tyler, TX Bus Rider Survey: Answers for a Northside Resident—

Crescent DR & S. Confederate AV.

1. Which bus lines are closest to you?

2. Where are they?

3. Where are the “least distant” bus stops of different lines?

4. Is Bergfeld Shopping Center the closest Yellow Line stop for you?

5. Is the Downtown Transit Depot the closest place for you to access ….
A. Blue North
B. Green North
C. Purple South

6. Where are your favorite bus stops used by three lines, aside from the two hubs.

7. Where would you like to see a bike rack?
1. Two Green South, Blue North, Red South.

2. One Green South is at MLK and Englewood, near the grounds of the now-gone Emmett J. Scott HS. The other Green South is at the Labor Ready on West Gentry . Blue North is at the BBQ place on the NE corner of W. Gentry and Glenwood. Red South is at Palace and Nutbush near an elementary school.

3. Red, Green, & Blue are the only bus lines in North Tyler.

4. The Bergfeld Shopping Center is the closest Yellow Line stop.

5. The Downtown Transit Depot is the closest place to access Purple South.

6. I don’t know of any bus stops serviced by more than one line in North Tyler, let alone three.

7. Downtown at Oakwood AV, W. Gentry & Palace area near Neighborhood Services and D&N, a leading store-restaurant-gas station, & Bergfeld Shopping Center (the 2nd hub).

Frequent Tyler, TX Bus Rider Survey, by Joffre (“JD”) Meyer (Midtown Resident)

Resident of Midtown (Hospital District) near Stanley’s Bar-B-Q

1. Which bus lines are closest to you?

2. Where are they?

3. Where are the “least distant” bus stops of different lines?

4. Is Bergfeld Shopping Center the closest Yellow Line stop for you?

5. Is the Downtown Transit Depot the closest place for you to access ….
A. Blue North
B. Green North
C. Purple South

6. Where are your favorite bus stops used by three lines, aside from the two hubs.

7. Where would you like to see a bike rack?

JD’s Answers

1. Purple North, Purple South, Green North.

2. The closest Purple North stop  is on East Houston at Donnybrook, while the closest Purple South stop  is at Austin State Bank near the SW corner of S. Beckham and E. Houston–across from Trinity Mother Frances. The nearest Green North bus stops are on S. Beckham at Trinity Mother Frances, directly across from Austin State Bank and on S. Beckham just south of E. Front. That Green North bus stop at the SE corner of Beckham & E. Front is less surrounded by traffic than the earlier stop by  TMF.

3. The closest Blue SW southbound stop used to be the one across from PATH on W. Front, a 15 minute walk. Now there’s a Blue SW southbound stop next to the new parking garage on S. Broadway between E. Front and Elm. The nearest Green South bus stop for me is on Fleishel & E. Houston, just past “Heartbreak Hill.” The closest Red North bus stop is at S. Broadway–just north of E. Houston. The closest Yellow stop is at its northernmost point in Bergfeld Shopping Center. The closest Red South bus stop is at the SW corner of S. Broadway & E. Front in front of the Catholic cathedral.

4. Yes, the Bergfeld Center hub is the closest Yellow Line stop for me.

5. A. No, the closest Blue North stop for me is across from the new parking garage between Front and Erwin next to the furniture store with all the bean bags, near the abandoned skyscraper.
B. No, I live very close to Green North bus stops because it serves the East side of Tyler, and I live in Midtown (East). C. No, I live in Midtown (The Hospital District), so three Purple line stops are very close to me.

6. Blue SW Northbound, Purple North, and Red North have a stop on N. Broadway across from the new Fair Parking Garage by the old furniture store with all the beanbags.

7. Both hubs, Downtown by the train museum and the Bergfeld Shopping Center, should have bike racks. I’d like to see a bike rack next to D&N in North Tyler on Bow ST near Neighborhood Services and a Green South stop at W. Gentry and Palace. Finally, I’d like to see a bike rack at the Downtown Square.

March 3rd #SOL15: It’s Payday!

The 3rd is payday–actually disability check day, COPD in my case. It’s a day of scurrying around to pay bills and buy groceries. I no longer drive. I walk or ride the city bus. I’ve become so well-versed in the bus routes and times that I was recruited to switch to the new transportation committee of the East TX Human Needs Network (ETHNN). Our other committees are education, health, employment, and housing.

My first trip this morning was the Family Dollar to buy really cheap stuff, such as paper products, liquid bath soap, and a bar of dark chocolate–all really a dollar. After a beer stop for later in the day, I visited a former student who works at the cell phone store in the same shopping center. Now she’s married with two kids, some twelve years later after our Developmental English class. I went to her dad’s regional Mexican karaoke a few Fridays ago and sang a couple myself a norteno song and a duranguense song.

Then it was time to watch a compulsory Rockford Files episode–starring the late, great James Garner as a private detective in Los Angeles who lives in a mobile home on the beach. After some rooting around on the Internet with my cellphone alarm keeping track, I galloped to the Purple South bus and headed for Brookshire’s Grocery in Bergfeld Shopping Center–the second hub of the Tyler Transit too. Besides splurging on food, that’s where I get my cashier’s check for rent. Recently, I’ve become a smart shopper who really looks for bargains in the mailbox insert with pen in hand. Sorting heavy groceries into two canvas bags (one lined) preceded the wait for the ride home. I sat next to my new bus friend who was grappling with a scratch-off game.

Once I got home, it was time to lay down with my albuterol nebulizer, while watching news on MSNBC with the volume turned up., for I was exhausted. Then it was time for one more errand before a couple of episodes of “Two-and-a-Half-Men,” in the early Charlie Sheen. Finally, I went to visit friends at Stanley’s Famous Bar-B-Q, and I live just two doors away–really convenient to a well-known restaurant. Now I’m hurriedly typing this Slice of Life while watching J*A*G, the Navy lawyer show.

I prefer living in business districts over residential. My neighborhood is called Midtown, aka. The Hospital District. I can reach stores, pharmacies, restaurants, banks, and doctors fairly easily–even by COPD standards. https://twowritingteachers.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/11454297503_e27946e4ff_h.jpg