Saturday, December 08, 2012

Transit in campaign organizing

Yesterday's post about transit policy racism reminded me that I learned a lot about shared transportation in the context of working on the Prop. 34 campaign. This was not something I expected.
  • This was the first time in years that I've been able to use public transport to a job. Riding BART daily gave me a heightened appreciation of my fellow commuters; I enjoyed having the train deliver me to the job. I also experienced one of the contentions in the POWER report I wrote about yesterday: when fares go down, I become much more willing to ride. In my the cost of riding dropped precipitously on my birthday.
  • Twenty years ago it was rare to hire a twenty-something organizer who didn't own a car. I remember one, but she was an odd ball. Today, many -- even most -- don't assume that owning a car is a necessary part of life. We even had two staff in Los Angeles who had no vehicle. (No, that didn't work very well.) Access to some by-the-day car sharing option has become a necessary campaign expense. This is almost certainly a planet-healthy cultural shift, but not one I'd anticipated.
  • I proved it is possible to get to and from LAX (the main Los Angeles airport) to downtown on public transportation, but I can't say I'd recommend the effort. If you shop around for off-brand car rentals, you can get a rental for roughly the same cost. Something is wrong there, but that's the fact. I put energy into figuring out the most emission and energy efficient way to carry off one-day trips into and out of Los Angeles and kept coming back to car rentals.
Times and habits are changing.


kathy a. said...

how did the zipcar option work for you? i've never tried it, but sounds like an excellent arrangement.

i love public transit in the bay area, especially bart! does not quite get one everywhere, but i'm usually able to get close to where i'm going.

LA is a very large can of transit woes. it actually has improved since my youth there, but no so much that one can really tell.

the burbank airport (bob hope) is generally a lot less crazy than LAX. there is a commuter train right by that airport, which goes to union station downtown. but if you have several places to go, a rental car is still pretty necessary.

janinsanfran said...

Zipcar worked great in the Bay where the nonprofit we were working out of had an account.

Burbank is much preferable to LAX -- unless you live in San Francisco. Flights to BUR originate out of Oakland in the Bay area, but BART wouldn't get me to OAK early enough to catch an early flight to BUR so I ended up driving on both ends when I tried that option ...

It's mystery.

What interested me the most was to learn how many young people are doing without their own car and feeling very good about that rather than deprived.

kathy a. said...

p.s. -- one of the reasons i love BART so much is that i not only skip dealing with the nasty traffic, but the cost of parking in downtown SF is horrible; and parking seems hard to find even in most neighborhoods. so, the cost of BART (and muni) has always struck me as reasonable.

kathy a. said...

i usually use bart to oakland, and am delighted that it now goes to sfo also! but i forgot about the bart start times.

it is really great that more people are feeling good about being car-free!