Advocacy group aims to promote public transportation in Greensboro
Transit Alliance of the Piedmont (TAP) is a citizen’s advocacy group and grassroots initiative promoting public transit in the community. Their mission is for improved regional transit that is economical, convenient, environmentally sound, and connects people to opportunities. The group first began meeting in 2012, and has established stable leadership over the last 10 months.
Last week, TAP addressed the entire Greensboro City Council about the impact of the public transit system on local residents. “Some districts may rely more heavily on the system as need riders, but we feel that we must attract more choice riders in order to bring more revenue to the current system,” said Ryan Saunders, a member of the advocacy group. TAP believes that eliminating some of the barriers preventing choice riders from riding the bus, if enacted, would make the system more efficient and provide cost savings that could be invested in more routes, longer run times, and more buses in service as well as bus stop shelters.
During the meeting, TAP proposed an initiative that was highly favored by the members of council. Entitled “Five Mile Challenge,” TAP is challenging each person in the community to ride five miles on public transit and share their experiences with the group. District 1 council member Sharon Hightower was most enthusiastic about the proposed initiative. Additionally, District 3’s Justin Outling has worked with Saunders for more than a month, listening to ideas and updates in regards to the initiative. Mayor Nancy Vaughan recommended that all of council support the challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to bring awareness to the reasons why choice riders do not ride the bus and encourage these changes to be made to remove these barriers.
In addition to the Five Mile Challenge, TAP is implementing a bus buddy program for citizens. The program seeks to form groups of friends and neighbors willing to take public transit, inviting them through email or social media to go on specific bus trips in order to achieve their 5-mile goal. This program will involve businesses promoting which stops and routes service their company. Also, the businesses will act as bus buddies by creating Facebook events or sending email threads to invite their customers to ride the bus with them to their business.
TAP is revitalizing the way citizens travel with a newly developed app called Social Routes. Social Routes is a reinterpretation of the maps used to identify bus routes and bus stops. “We want to guide people’s decisions by what they want to do rather than just point A to point B travel,” said Saunders. “The app identifies routes by your favorite local business rather than simply by cross streets.” Social Rotes uses Google data to incorporate local business icons onto route maps and can be filtered by the activity you are seeking to participate such as restaurants, bars, medical centers and parks.
After hosting Dinner with a Side of Culture in October, TAP has seen motivation within and surrounding the group’s initiatives. “Many people are expressing interest in our initiatives and we have been attending public meetings and events spreading the word,” said Saunders. The group anticipates their recent involvement in community meetings will culminate in a large participation in the Five Mile Challenge. “Recently, we unveiled our social routes apps at an Idea Slam at Collab Community Center, and the positive reception was amazing,” Saunders said. !
Five Mile Challenge begins Dec. 1 through Dec. 15. The official ribbon cutting ceremony, led by Deborah Hooper, is Dec. 3 at the Bus Depot. An Eventbrite page for the challenge is currently in the works for riders to donate $1 per mile ridden if willing and able. For more information on Five Mile Challenge visit their Facebook event page at www.facebook.com/events/184311755247189/