Seems like everywhere you look, transit riders are feeling the squeeze from reduced or discontinued service. The cuts run deep in the Atlanta region, with C-Tran going dark this past March and MARTA announcing yesterday that it's cutting about 10 percent of its bus and rail service effective in September. Also, GRTA's express bus service will begin running out of funds next year.
While Atlanta is far from alone, the double-whammy of reduced sales tax revenues down and government budget cuts is taking its toll on transit across Georgia and the US. This picture says it all.
Against the backdrop of a terrible environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, everybody's frustrated.
Gulf coast residents are seething at BP. BP shareholders are upset at the prospect of losing billions on their investment. The federal government has lost patience with the progress being made after almost 60 days of dashed hopes (will there be a government takeover of the disaster response when the President speaks tonight at 8:00pm?). And many commuters - including some here in Georgia - are contemplating where they want to fill up their gas tanks, an expression of the public ire directed at (and potential dollars diverted from) British Petroleum.
But something interesting is happening. For some, the anger they feel about the seemingly hopeless situation we're in is starting to morph into something else. Bubbling up from the depths are diverging emotions about the oil spill as it relates to driving:
Some feel guilty about their reliance on cars. From today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reader Sybil Thomas of Whitesburg writes:
"I can bemoan a response that cannot encompass the enormity of the environmwental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But as long as I am still filling up my gas tank with oil-based fuel, I, too, am responsible."
Others feel defensive about their freedom to drive, regardless of the environmental risks. Whichever direction your emotions are channeled, there is a desire for action. And MARTA's annual "Dump the Pump" event is one way to do something with your feelings about the situation. This Thursday, June 17, MARTA is encouraging all Atlantans to take transit to work. Another way to turn your feelings about oil into something actionable is to find a carpool partner and ride to work together once or twice a week. There are resources available from The Clean Air Campaign and RideSmart to make it easy.
Borne out of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is at least one positive circumstance. The oil spill is getting more conversations started about transportation options and about accountability. Where do you stand on these issues?
With the opening of the A-Team movie, summer blockbuster film season is well underway. Adapted from the 80s TV series, it's the story of four crime-fighting vigilantes ... who ride to "work" in their van.
Anyhow, it got The Clean Air Campaign thinking about other famous vanpools. Of course, Scooby Doo and the vaunted Mystery Machine comes to mind.
What was it about vanpooling that worked for these stars? Maybe the A-Team did it for the sake of productivity. It's certainly easier for a plan to come together about stopping the bad guys when your team can collaborate on the road. And the Scooby Doo cast probably saves a lot of money, too, by riding to crime scenes together instead of driving separately (and if Shaggy signed up for Commuter Rewards with The Clean Air Campaign, he could be eligible to win $25 monthly prizes). Of course, the camaraderie of vanpooling cannot be undersold either.
Bottom line: these celebrities are making it work with vanpooling, so if it works for them it might work for you, too.
For employers - The Clean Air Campaign has developed a special program to help Georgia employers make vanpooling available to select groups of employees who live near each other and commute in to the same destination. Ask us about how we can help bring this concept to your worksite -- at no cost.
For commuters - Watch this brief video to learn three reasons why vanpooling makes sense for a growing number of Georgia commuters.
Saw the ice cream truck in my neighborhood the other day, so it must be summer! The new season brings out the carefree kid in all of us. So, slather on some sunscreen. Throw down your towel and run through the sprinkler. Stay cool with this latest edition of Merging Lanes.
Et Tu, Kudzu?
The Clean Air Campaign is all for going green, but this is wild. As if vehicle tailpipes weren't enough, new research has introduced a new arch nemesis in Georgia's fight against ground-level ozone: kudzu. Not only is the state's landscape blanketed in the leafy green stuff from Buford to Bainbridge, but we're also learning that a chemical reaction in kudzu produces more of the nitrogen oxide compounds that are a chief ingredient in smog. So, grab your hedge clippers in the name of cleaner air. We might have to develop a new incentive program … Cash for Kudzu.
Lane ends 2,000 feet.
All Quiet on the Code Orange Front … For Now
Speaking of air pollution, we've cleared the first month of smog season 2010 edition with a flurry of exceedances in the first week, followed by three weeks straight without any. That's been a good streak. But before you get too excited, keep in mind that cooler weather probably deserves much of the credit. Any day is a good day to choose alternatives to driving alone on your daily commute. Watch this space in about 90 days, when the US Environmental Protection Agency is slated to announce new, more stringent standards for ground-level ozone to protect public health.
Lane ends 1,000 feet.
Technically Speaking, Greener Driving is Attainable
Interesting story from GreenBiz.com about new technology and tools that enhance driving efficiency. We all know about GPS, but eco-routing takes navigation a step further by tying it to fuel consumption and a futuristic ability for a car's engine to "look ahead" at the terrain to make decisions related to engine performance. Smarter travel is headed this way ... but the most intelligent way to improve the air we breathe is to drive less.
Lane ends 500 feet.
Dump the Pump with MARTA on June 17
Hop on the bus or take the train to work to help MARTA celebrate their annual "Dump the Pump" event, which takes place June 17. And for fun, MARTA is hosting a special contest that asks patrons to express via video and blog "Why MARTA Matters to the Environment." Get the details here.