Transit's Most Basic Form in Action

What do you know? I spent two weeks in Europe in September experiencing all there is for rail in France, England and Germany, and the form of transit I used the most — my feet.

We can talk all we want about what form of transit will or won’t work in the United States, but at the end of the day we need to get the idea of door-to-door service out of our heads. If nothing else, the automobile’s rise as the conveyance of choice has spoiled us by being able to walk a few steps, get in and go wherever we want.

Transit in Europe works in roughly the same manner, except for that walk a few steps part. No, I didn’t have to walk miles down dark streets to get to the train station, but I did have to walk a couple blocks — and it was great.

It sounds odd at first, but walking a couple blocks to and from my destination was actually enjoyable. I was able to see more of the area I was walking through, I stopped and picked up things I needed at local shops and I lost weight — a fair amount.

We hear a lot of complaints about how transit doesn’t take you where you need to go, which is code for it doesn’t drop me off in front of my destination. So? Transit’s most basic form is walking. It’s been used since the dawn of time and yet we seem to detest the thought of having to use it here in the United States.

Having said that I was thrilled to receive an email about the “Ten Toes Express” program recently. This program encourages seniors to combine walking with public transportation to visit cultural and historic sites as a form of fun and exercise.

What a great idea! The “Ten Toes Express” program is a tremendous success in the St. Louis region with more than 6,500 participants involved already.

The group behind the program has created a program guide called “Step by Step to the Ten Toes Express,” which outlines how to create a similar program for the transit system in your area.

You can find a copy of the program guide at: http://www.cmt-stl.org/cmt_walk_guide.pdf.

I recently wrote my MT Position blog about Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote address at this year’s APTA annual meeting. Gladwell discussed how getting parents to buckle up their children resulted in an increase of seatbelt use across the board.

Perhaps the Ten Toes Express can do the same thing for transit. Getting seniors out and using transit as advocates let’s people know that anyone can use it and could inspire others to get stepping.

Let’s put our feet to use and show how transit works!

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