Briefly—I’ll be participating in a panel for the famed and lovely organization TransitCenter this Wednesday. If you’re in NYC, stop by! I don’t often make it out there and would love to say hello.

Here’s TransitCenter’s description of the event:

The job of a bus operator is demanding. While getting a bus from Point A to Point B safely and on-schedule is their primary focus, their responsibilities extend beyond what the job title suggests. Operators answer questions from passengers, assist with fare payment, and respond to emergencies and passenger issues that may arise during their run. They possess a wealth of knowledge about transit operations that agencies should pay close attention to. Bus operators’ day-to-day interactions with the riders and communities that their buses serve give them a unique perspective on transit service and how it is (or isn’t) meeting people’s needs.

What could agencies learn by listening to their bus operators? What don’t riders know about the difficulties of being an operator? And amidst nationwide transit operator shortages, what can agencies do to improve job quality and ensure that operators stay on the job? What can agencies do to better provide operators the opportunity to advance through the ranks? This panel will seek to answer these questions and recognize transit’s unsung heroes.

I enjoy listening more than talking, and definitely get more out of the former, but I’ve been told I’m an effective blabbermouth as well, and I’ll do my best to live up to that quality and contribute more to this exciting panel than taking up space in one of those office chairs. The first thing I’ll be pointing out is that “getting from point A to point B on-schedule” is actually a lil’ further down on my priority list…

What is TransitCenter? You wonderful urbanists likely already know, but for any newcomer friends, they’re a national group that “works to improve transit in order to make cities more just and environmentally sustainable… Our experience is that the greatest challenges facing transit are human, not technological, and that transit reform depends on high-performing public agencies and strong citizen-led advocacy. To that end, we support, inform, connect, and fund the civic and public leaders working to make transit better.”

How delightful. See you there. This event will be live-streamed, and available for subsequent online viewing as well. I’ll keep you posted.

RSVP to the event and learn further details here. 

Photo courtesy of TransitCenter.

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Article Author

Nathan Vass is an artist, filmmaker, photographer, and author by day, and a Metro bus driver by night, where his community-building work has been showcased on TED, NPR, The Seattle Times, KING 5 and landed him a spot on Seattle Magazine’s 2018 list of the 35 Most Influential People in Seattle. He has shown in over forty photography shows is also the director of nine films, six of which have shown at festivals, and one of which premiered at Henry Art Gallery. His book, The Lines That Make Us, is a Seattle bestseller and 2019 WA State Book Awards finalist.