A guest blog by TRU Board Member Nick Schroeck
Back in 2010, I was living in Royal Oak and running a small environmental nonprofit and helping to start an environmental law clinic in Detroit. Being an advocate for green energy solutions, I figured that I should “walk the walk” by riding the bus. I would hop on the bus around 13 Mile and commute to Midtown. When I would tell people that I was riding the bus to Detroit, they looked at me like I was from outer space and several people raised concerns for my safety. I don’t want to make light of safety concerns – we always have to be vigilant – but I have never felt unsafe on the bus.
Later in 2010, my wife and I were looking to make a move. I was enjoying my new bus-riding lifestyle without the stress of driving, leisurely sipping my morning coffee, and listening to the radio on my headphones as we made our way down Woodward. I wanted to continue that lifestyle in our new house. We found a house in Bloomfield Township near a SMART bus limited route that had morning and evening rush hour service to Detroit. It certainly wasn’t the only reason we decided to buy the house, but it was a big thumb on the scale.
Now we have been a one-car household for nine years and I continue to ride the SMART bus to work. I also ride DDOT and the QLine around town and do a good deal of walking from place to place. (My old Urban Studies professor’s voice rings in my ears, “the only way to really know a city is by walking its streets!”)
I choose to ride the bus. I want to lower my carbon footprint, decrease traffic, and support public transportation. I have learned over the past nine years that many people don’t choose to ride the bus. They ride because it is their only source of transportation. Sharing the bus with our elders using walkers or mobility scooters, or people with impaired vision listening to hear the announcement for their stop, I have gained an understanding of the importance of our transit system to so many of our fellow citizens who are unable to drive or to afford a car and the ridiculously high auto insurance rates.
The vast majority of riders on my bus are going to and from work or school. I have realized that the bus is the backbone of our economy and our educational system. I started riding the bus to be a “green” example. I keep riding the bus because I now have a better understanding of the importance of transit for the health and prosperity of our region – and because I like it and I have made friends! I happily joined the TRU Board of Directors because I want to help make our transit system better, more efficient, and more accessible for us all.