During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver reduced vehicle traffic by 36%. Translink’s TravelSmart program aims to re-achieve such success by showing the Metro Vancouver Region that “we have options when it comes to the way we travel.”
True story. And you might need options because gas is about to get really, really expensive. Freedom – of the market or Libya, whatever narrative you like – has a price, after all. Now. Travel Smart cites the environment as a key reason for choosing public transit, but the program really goes far beyond just riding a bus or train or boat to help Mother Earth.
More than a just a program, TravelSmart is a lifestyle. Consider this a tool to help you understand that your travel choices impact everything from your wallet to your health to the air quality. Choices as simple as ride-sharing with a car full of friends on your way to school, cycling to work or carsharing to run weekend errands – all of these choices have immediate and long-term benefits.
There are quizzes, health promotion tips, environmental facts, maps, testimonials, games, and awesomeness wrapped up in this meaningful campaign.
I’m an avid Public Transitter (©Copyright John Horn 2011) and truly enjoy the community-building – or forcing, if you take the 99 B-Line like I do – of riding the bus. Here are three stories of community-oriented travel that, I hope, will get you thinking about transporting yourself with people, as surrounding yourself human beings just make getting from place to place way more interesting.
Story 1: A Vancouver Transportation Story. I wrote about this last year, and it got some good play from other public transitters. Basically, heroes and villains emerged during a morning commute from Commercial Drive to UBC on the 99 B-Line. Unfortunately, one of the villains was the bus driver, who came dangerously close to running a cyclist off the road. And it was interesting to see all the passengers react to the driver’s behaviour as well as the cyclist’s. It shows that we have a ways to go as a community.
Story #2: The Bigot on the Bus. Speaking of humanity having a long way to go, this story from up-and-coming online magazine, the The Vancouver Observer, appealed to my very inclusive soul. I pride myself in being able to find common ground with anybody and the positive in pretty much anything, but I don’t know if I could’ve sympathized with the gentleman chronicled in Lori Kidwell’s story. As it turns out, you’ve gotta be open minded to ride the bus!
Story #3: Bus Driver Love. I haven’t written about this one yet. Well, I guess I am now. Anyway, I was taking the 99 B-Line home from UBC on a Friday night and there was just this awesome vibe on the bus. Now one was plugged into their iPods and people were just talking, laughing and, yes, there might’ve been some sipping. I struck up a conversation with some engineers and a German Lufthansa pilot from Frankfurt, who claimed vehemently that “Vancouver bus drivers are the nicest in the world.” Almost on cue, as we arrived at Commercial Drive station the driver got on the intercom and said, “ladies and gentlemen, this might be your Friday, but I want you to know that it’s my Monday. Thank you for getting my week started on such a great note!” We obviously left the bus smiling, clapping and pretty darn happy with our choice to travel publicly.
So there it is. Whatever you do to travel, make it smart and think about the environment, your health and finances, and building community as you get from place to place. Most importantly, have fun with it!