Saturday, March 22, 2014

Transit around the world: Sint Maarten/Saint Martin

As a part of our work and play adventures, Melissa and I get the opportunity to travel around the United States and sometimes, when are extra lucky, around the world! 

This edition of 'Transit around the world' takes us to the beautiful island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. 

The island is located in the Caribbean, just east of Puerto Rico. It's split into 2 countries - Sint Maarten is Dutch and Saint Martin is French. - but there's an open (no need for a passport) border. This adventure takes us between the exploring the capitals of the 2 countries - Phillipsburg and Marigot. 

We had read a few things about the bus system on the island, and learned the following: 

1. In most cases, there's not marked stops or set routes. If you see a bus going where you want to go, as noted by a sign in the front of the bus, just flag them down.
2. Fares range from $1 - $3. 
3. They are safe and frequent! 

So after our time in Phillipsburg, we happened to find the street where the buses ran. The buses were more like mini-vans, but were definitely frequent. We also found a labelled bus stop (perfect), which I of course had to hug: 
A bus stopped for us, after about a 1 minute wait, labeled 'Maho Beach' and we were headed to Marigot. After telling the driver where we were headed, a quick sign change and we were on our way! 
Supply meets demand = LOVE IT.
We picked up another bus rider and stopped so our bus driver could throw out a banana peel in the trash (we of all people know = bus snacks are important). Our bus ride was $2 each and we paid our fare at the end of the super-fast ride. 

Way more environmentally friendly and economical than a cab! #buswin #always

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dispatches from the CAC: Part 1 (and it's already time for ACTION)

Greetings 2W4W fans!

Yes, it's been awhile and YES, we've still be attempting to bus/bike (mostly walk/bus - biking has largely been treacherous for us. See: shoulder and hip bruises) during the winter of 2014. It's been an adventure to say the least, but this is not why we come to you this lovely Tuesday morn.

Many of you know that I've been lucky enough to be granted the opportunity to serve on the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority's Citizen's Advisory Council (CAC). We've had a couple of really productive meetings of the CAC, have a great set of bylaws in place, and have been getting to know each other. It's a very dynamic and like-minded group of people, and I'll be posting some more observations and information about the CAC as we get rollin' (see what I did there?!).

Now, for what you have been waiting for.

We need you to take some action, transit friends. You know by now that we don't mess around (much).

Many of you have heard the news that the budget to largely fund the RTA won't be on the ballot for the voters until 2016. But until then, the RTA needs some basic operational funding to get going. Money for a CEO, some basic transit professional planners and consultants, some admin support, insurance, legal, accounting, basic office set-up, etc. I'm actually looking at the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 and it's a little over $900k.

Extremely and all kinds of reasonable. Any start-up needs some funds to, uh, get started. Am I right!?

The Governor and Senate have passed $2M dollars in start-up funds to get us to 2016, as a part of supplemental appropriations bill SB 608. The Michigan House Committee has stripped these funds out, which leaves the RTA without those sorely needed (and can we all agree reasonable) start-up funds. Lord help me.

Our friends at Transit Riders United have created an easy link that you can use to contact the leadership in Michigan to urge them to add the RTA funding back into SB 608.

You can also reach out to your lawmakers via phone or email, urging them to support the $2M RTA Supplemental funding.
Find your Senator:
Find your Representative:

Please take action TODAY because the vote in the House may be as early as today! 

One day, when we are all happily riding the BRT down Woodward, and with the sun shining upon our stress-free faces, we will laugh and laugh about the silly days that we thought we couldn't get $2M for 2 years for an RTA in Michigan. We deserve to get to those days. Call now and THANKS.