Thursday, July 19, 2012

An Audience of One

I spend a lot of time complaining about commuting, as do most people who live here in the DC-Maryland-Northern Virginia area. Those who have more time and patience than good sense drive to work, becoming one of the tens of thousands of lemmings that head for the DC cliff every day. Those who have the opportunity (like me) ride the bus or Metro rail (or both), spend a lot of time complaining about the service (you can read the premier compendium of Metro complaints at Unsuck DC Metro).

Because I don't like to complain about something without having all the details or having a suggestion to resolve the issue, I decided to attend a public meeting last night at which a series of changes to the bus routes I use to get to work would be explained and discussed by local transit officials. I rushed home from work, wolfed down my dinner, and zipped over to the local government center to get myself informed.

The meeting was scheduled for 7:00 PM, and began right on time with five people in the room: Yours Truly and four transit representatives.

Yes, that's right. Four Fairfax Connector representatives showed up with their laptop and detailed briefing to present the changes to an audience of ... one.

Given the level of complaining that I hear every day and the very real danger that we will lose our bus service in favor of "higher priority" routes, I was surprised and embarrassed to be the only person to show up at the meeting. The transit folks soldiered bravely on, tailoring their presentation to their audience of one and answering all my questions. I appreciated their preparation and their candor as they earnestly worked to put the right color lipstick on the commuting pig, and in the end I was a bit more optimistic than when I'd first arrived that the changes ... while inconvenient for me and lengthening my commute a bit more ... might not be as bad as I'd thought.

Of course, we'll just have to see how it all turns out. One way or another, we'll all make it work ...

In case any of the folks who gave the presentation last night are reading this (I passed out copies of my blog card in an act of supreme self-promotion), thanks. You did well, I appreciated the opportunity to get more information and have my questions answered, and I'm sorry more people didn't come out to hear what you had to say.

Have a good day. Attend public meetings so that your voice can be heard. More thoughts tomorrow.


P.S. - Save the 304!


Mike said...

'Yours Truly and four transit representatives.'

I can't think of a better audience of one than the person that showed up. Those poor four suckers had no idea what they were in for did they?

eViL pOp TaRt said...

It's great that you showed up and shared your thoughts, Bilbo. It's dismaying that so few transit patrons managed to attend. After all, how can intelligent decision-making occur without effective input from the users?

"Putting lipstick on the commuter pig!" I'll savor that zinger all day!

The Mistress of the Dark said...

People that use public transit are always getting screwed in the not so pleasant fashion..ask anyone in Pittsburgh...PAT is the most horribly managed transit companies around.

KathyA said...

Perhaps they were all stuck in traffic? Their buses broke down? :)

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I'm proud of you for attending. I have been in that situation before. I attended something in my community and it was me and just me in the audience. But at least I was heard. No one could ignore me. :-)

Do you know that ever since I moved here I have never had the commute experience? I worked from home 1 day a week and traveled the rest. I am thankful but my first 8 yrs here I could get around Manhattan better than my back yard.

Duckbutt said...

Good going, being there! Having prepared for a meeting and having no one show up is a real let down for the ones doing it.

Big Sky Heidi said...

Glad you did show up. BTW, UnSuckNetroDC is a blog that's interesting. The girl could have gotten seriously hurt!