Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gettin' on board 'n ridin' the bus

No, dear reader, the title of this isn't that for some country song for which I'm writing the lyrics. This may be "Music City" but I sure didn't come to town, this time or the previous, to make it big in country music or any other musical genre. My talents don't go in that direction.

No, what I refer to with this title is that I attended my second meeting of the Board of the Nashville MTA. If you've read my earlier blog effort ("Glen Alan's San Antonio") you know that in San Antonio yours truly was a daily bus rider. Same here. And just as in my early days in the previous city I saw items for improvement in the city bus service and began attending MTA board meetings and voicing my concerns and compliments, so I'm doing here.

My first such meeting with Nashville MTA was back in October, just a day before the ceremonial opening of the new Music City Central city bus station. That meeting surprised me, due to the small size of the Board -- five members -- and the brevity of the meeting -- less than an hour. (San Antonio by contrast, seats over ten members on its Board and monthly meetings run over three hours.)

And then came that ceremonial opening of MCC, just as impressive as any such event I'd been to regarding VÍA MTA back in San Antonio. This ceremony to open MCC concluded with presentation of the winning jingle in MTA's contest to compose a promotional jingle. Listening to the creator do the new jingle actually got me "pumped up" about Nashville's city bus service (for the first time)! Only in "Music City" can one open something like this with a song written for the occasion!

Therefore, I was eager to attend the next Board meeting and give them my kudos. A major item on the Agenda was, of course, the opening of Music City Central. It being the December meeting (they skipped the Nov. mtg. due to no action items) there were holiday-type refreshments to the side, and a gift at each of the member's place on the table. One was opened at the end of the meeting: it held a glass crystal model of MCC! Any surprise about that?

I'm glad that as a citizen and bus rider I have these opportunities to present my compliments and concerns to the Nashville MTA authorities. However, it distresses me that at both meetings I was the only such citizen to be heard. I suspect that this low attendance is due to meetings being held in early afternoon of a week day, when most concerned riders will be at work. I'm only present due to having a second-shift work schedule. Oh, and also due to my having been a patron for six and a half years of VÍA in San Antonio. VÍA's being one of the very best MTAs in these United States gives me a solid concept of the ample room for improvement in public transit here.

However, my ardor for pushing strongly for major improvements in Nashville MTA is cooling due to several factors. 1) I realize that this transit company lacks fiscal dedication; that is, government funding doesn't have any amount automatically dedicated to it (thus MTA has to fight for every dollar it receives out of the government's budget). 2) I realize that Nashville is a much smaller metropolis than is S.A. 3) The smoothness of MTA Board meetings, and the impressive grand opening of MCC sway me toward more positive feelings about the bus service here.

So-o-o-o. . . I'm ready to simply get on board and try to be a happy rider!

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