Last Monday evening members of the Organizing Committee on Transit (O.C.T.) gathered with Independence Center staff at the Mountain Metro Transit terminal to celebrate the initiation of evening bus service. Since the committee’s formation in October of last year this group has worked with great diligence to improve bus service in Colorado Springs. By applying the principles and methods of community organization the O.C.T. did extensive grassroots research by listening to over 150 bus riders and others who have an interest in public transit. The committee met weekly for two hours with great focus and commitment. Compiling the results from the listening campaign allowed the group to identify the need for evening bus service as the top priority. This specific point was made repeatedly along with the push for improving bus service generally at City Council meetings, in communications with the Mayor, during City budget discussions, with letters to the editor, and in broadcast media coverage. The results of this effort, in conjunction with the work of several other persons and organizations across Colorado Springs, were realized Monday as the buses rolled out of the station for the first evening service in more than three years.
During the past two months the committee has continued its research on several fronts including individual interviews with candidates for City Council. The intention of these interviews was twofold: to understand each candidate’s vision for the City as well as their positions on transit. The interviews were also a first step in developing a working relationship with people who care about the city and are willing to dedicate their time to make a difference. That last point applies to the members of the O.C.T. who have given a great deal of time and talent to achieve a successful outcome in their first campaign.
Committee members Sharon King and Frank Blakely were interviewed by Fox and KOAA news reporters and broadcast later that evening. Both Sharon and Frank did a fine job of presenting informed opinions on the renewal of evening service and what it means to not have to live with a curfew. “It’s really exciting; to me it says we’re taking a step forward into the 21st century.” Frank explained “Without this expansion, I have no evening time except to sit in my apartment and watch television and read a book. Reading a book is probably good for me, but I like to go out sometimes!” Sharon also spoke to the isolation that comes from not having access to good public transit and how the new service will help overcome the sense of being cut off from the wider community.
We celebrated with a ‘victory lap’ on buses #7 and #5 with a trip to the Citadel Mall where people gathered at the food court. Congratulations to the O.C.T. on their good work that will benefit the entire community.