January 18, 2010
Employment positions in this issue's classifieds include an Executive Director; an Executive Director, Operations; and a Chief Operations Officer!
Transit Leaders Must Communicate with Government at All Levels
BY R.E. “TUCK” DUNCAN, Executive Director, Kansas Public Transit Association, Topeka, KS
This year—2010—is the time for transit advocacy. No one knows transit any better than those of us in the arena of providing public transportation services. Will we rise to the challenge?
My mother always told me that no one would speak up any better for Number One than I would. So, speak up folks. We have a great story to tell and, in times of scarce resources, we must compete with others who also have good stories.
As a state association director, I believe this advocacy role may be even more important at the state and local levels, as available funding there is in short supply. Policy makers need to hear firsthand from providers and from those to whom we provide services about how we are their lifelines to work, school, medical, and daily life activities.
This is the year for advocacy because, as state and federal budgets are determined this year, those budgets will be the template for the entire decade. When your state senators or state representatives are attending an “eggs and issues” breakfast, attend as well and ask them how they intend to fund transportation.
Ask what you can do to make their job easier in meeting your needs. Tell them you will support the tough votes. Go to your state capitol and visit with state senators and representatives, even if there is no transit-related legislation pending.
Policy makers want to hear from their constituents, and preferably not just at times of crisis. It’s better if they hear from you firsthand than from others secondhand, since others may not tell the story as well as you can.
Also, don’t forget the executive branch. It takes a governor and his or her cabinet to implement favorable transit-oriented policies.
Remember that most (if not all) politics is local. Show up at City Hall for those governing and planning board meetings where participants decide on the policies affecting transit services and transit-oriented development at home.
Let’s all be better advocates for transit. Mom’s right: if we don’t tout our own importance, no one else will. I resolve to follow Mom’s advice in 2010.