Registration will open soon for the 2012 Good To Go Commuter Challenge, May 12-18. The Challenge is a friendly competition between individuals, teams and workplaces. During the week-long challenge, participants track and report their sustainable commutes online; anything counts except driving alone. Learn more about the Challenge. Thanks to Danny Hajek and photographer Karen Hanrahan for making this series of interviews with sustainable commuters possible.
Prior to this year’s challenge, the Good To Go Blog is bringing you a series of interviews with commuters who choose to get around sustainably year round. With the rising gas prices we hope that you join them for at least the week of the challenge to save a few bucks and we hope you’ll find it’s not as hard as you might think. For the first interview in the series, GLT’s Danny Hajek spoke with John Bowman, who’s been riding the bus for the past 6 years to get to his job as an internal auditor at State Farm. He says once a rider learns the routes, it’s pretty simple to get around.
Danny Hajek: What are some of the misconceptions about this form of transportation?
John Bowman: One misconception I found to be totally unfounded and untrue is that buses are unsafe; that you’ll run into people there that may endanger you and I haven’t found that to be the case. You do have some interesting people who ride the buses and they come from all classes and social strata. But I haven’t found the buses to be unsafe and I actually find a lot of the riders to be personable and a lot of the drivers as well who are typically very helpful and can be quit engaging at times.
DH: So do you strike up conversations with the passengers?
JB: On occasion, I do, I probably talk more to the drivers just because riding regularly they get to know me and I get to know them and we share a relationship at some level, just kind of sharing life together in that context.
For John it’s the challenge of learning all the bus routes that got him interested in public transit. He takes the Teal J from his house, makes a connection in the morning to the Red B bus to State Farm in downtown Bloomington. After work he takes the Green A into uptown Normal to connect with the Yellow G and then hops back on the Teal J at College Hills Mall to get back home. And even when the weather is bad, John waits for his bus.
JB: When last year’s blizzard occurred actually I was out there that morning and rode the bus and so that was pretty exciting that morning. It got to be kind of ugly that particular day.
DH: What was that like, a bus ride in a blizzard?
JB : You know it was interesting the buses actually continued to run that day until about 3 o’clock and at that point it became too hazardous for anyone to be out on the roads and they shut down operations. But the buses will operate in just about any conditions and the skill level obviously of the drivers is such that they are able to navigate the roads under most circumstances and conditions.
DH: At a personal level, do you feel a sense of satisfaction from commuting sustainably?
JB: I do. I try to conserve and use energy responsibly. That is a part of it and I try as I say to be as economical as possible but not just as a personal pocket book perspective but from the standpoint of the environment and overall resources to try and be a good steward of everything and not just what comes under my control or what I have some measure of control over for that matter.
John Bowman is an internal auditor at State Farm and he serves on the board of trustees for the Bloomington-Normal Public Transit System. Join John on the bus, ride your bike or choose a sustainable commute that works for you and participate in the 2012 Good To Go commuter challenge, May 12-18. If John can ride the bus year round, can’t you try it for a week? Learn more and register for the challenge now.
The Good To Go Blog is administered by Mike McCurdy, WGLT Program Director and co-coordinator of the sustainable transportation project Good To Go. The Commuter Challenge is May 12-18. Danny Hajek and photographer Karen Hanrahan helped make this series of sustainable commuter interviews possible. Hear an audio version and see a schedule of upcoming interviews at the WGLT website.