I am a super introverted person, so choosing to speak to a crowded bus about public transportation funding was certainly not ideal. But I also do not like when my introversion prevents me from doing something, so I decided to take this opportunity to challenge myself (and I brought a few friends along for the journey).
I went on the Sound Transit tram that goes from the Tacoma Dome Station to UW-Tacoma. It is only about a 10-minute ride, so I did not have much time to get settled before I had to start speaking. It was about 9:30am, which means it was standing-room-only full of college students, but since this I was using this to challenge myself, I figured I would do it in a busy part of the day.
This particular bus is free (subsidized by government agencies) to help the lack of parking in downtown Tacoma. Very few students can find parking close to the school, so the bus is the only option. There plan is to begin charging sometime next year and extending the route to a wealthier neighborhood in North Tacoma so it can become more of a revenue source (even though the City is fully funding the route).
When I started speaking up front, my voice started out too quiet, so no one heard me. So I asked for everyone’s attention for a minute, which led to about 12 of the 40 people on the bus pay attention (which I suppose is better than nothing). I explained how this free service will eliminated in the short-term if nothing is done, and that it will seriously hurt the parking situation in Tacoma. Individuals will have to pay $2.00 just to get one mile from the parking garage to the school. Many students cannot afford this.
Instead of just giving them the facts, I then encouraged everyone to email their city councilman and encourage them to continue funding the service, as it is essential to UWT students. I then handed out my card to four interested individuals and said that I would send them a draft letter for them to send out if they wanted.
Those individuals have not emailed me yet, but if they do, I will draft a short note for them to send to their councilman. I really hope they end up contacting me! I use this route regularly. Overall, the experience was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be (keep in mind, I was incredibly nervous, but I think I got my point across about lobbying for public transportation funding). I had friends nearby and the bus riders were surprisingly responsive and kind (or at least they pretended to be, which made me feel much more comfortable).