This past Wednesday, I had the cool opportunity to chat it up with Senior Transportation Planner , and bus fan J.R Alexander. He’s currently on the west coast having worked with some of the biggest transportation companies the PST time zone can offer, including Apple! (Side note: who would have known that apple has a mini transit system, how cool is that!)
Any who we spent about an hour talking on the clubhouse app about the love hate relationship between bus operators and planners. As a 10-year veteran operator with more than a few opinions about planners I was super excited for our conversation, and it didn’t disappoint .
Here are four of my biggest takeaways from that conversation
This one was really cool because as operators we tend to believe the planners just make the schedule and put it out. During this segment he was able to share some things about the planning process and just how serious some planners take their schedules .
Contrary to popular belief transit planners do not design schedules to be late. Some of them actually take it personal when a schedule they are responsible for underperforms.
We didn’t spend much time on this topic however it was a bit of a surprise to learn that lack of staffing can actually impact the runs. I’d like to dedicate an entire session to just chatting about this one day as I’m sure most operators were not aware. Moving forward if your transit agency is short a few bus drivers, lets just say I know a guy 😎
J.R had expressed that he feels bus operators have the potential to be the best planners due to their natural understanding of how things work behind the wheel. However with operators having inconsistent schedules and 12+ hour days, being able to fully commit 4 years to college isn’t as realistic as people make it out to be.
He said he felt if an operator had 3-5 years within a system they we’re already at an advantage compared to most conventional college grads. He expressed frustration because these programs already exists, however they are never offered to the operators rather college students outside of the agency.
This was my favorite part of our conversation, it was genuine and passionate. That segment had connected with me personally because at one point I was that operator who tried to do college while driving fulltime and it was extremely challenging.
J.R has his own club on the clubhouse app!
Black x Urban Planning features black transportation planners talking about what it means to be black in urban planning….cool cool stuff.
I‘ll be stopping by on this weeks chat.
You should join me!