If you have an iPhone, click on the “Maps” application and then click on the little arrowhead down in the bottom left corner that gives you your current location (my current location is represented by the blue dot on the map at right, where I’m sitting in my kitchen having a bowl of yummy oatmeal). Then click on the “search” button next to it and type in the address of your workplace (because, let’s face it: if you have an iPhone chances are good that you also have a job).
Now, here’s where it gets interesting:
Click the “directions” button and then click “route” to get directions from your current location to your workplace. The amazing iPhone technology will map out your route and tell you how long it will take to drive there.
But here’s where it gets even more interesting:
Let’s say you live in Creighton Court, in the East End of Richmond, and that you’ve been able to get a job washing cars at Carmax in the West End. According to your iPhone that job is 16.4 miles away from where you live and it will take you 23 minutes to get there. But then do this: go to the top of the screen and click on the little icon that looks like a bus. This will tell you how long it takes to get to your job by public transportation.
If you can get to the bus stop by 7:40, good for you, but you have to walk 0.3 miles to get there, change buses downtown, and walk 1.6 miles when you get off the Gaskins Express bus to get to your job at Carmax. The trip is now 49 minutes rather than 23, and that’s just the part that’s actually on the bus. How long does it take you to walk 1.9 miles? You need to figure that in and then check the bus schedule to make sure it runs at the time you need to get to work. I did this same exercise a little before noon yesterday and found that the Gaskins Express bus didn’t run for another four hours.
Again, if you have an iPhone, try it; see how long it would take you to get from where you live to where you work by public transportation. I’m guessing that it would take longer, and involve a good bit more walking, than simply getting in your car and driving.
But there’s the problem. A lot of the people who live in Creighton Court (for example) don’t have cars. In fact 60 percent of the households in the city of Richmond have one or less cars. How are those people going to get to work? They’re going to ride the bus. But the bus doesn’t always go to where the jobs are. In fact 128,000 jobs in Metropolitan Richmond lie outside the existing bus routes. What’s the solution?
Extend the bus routes.
I need to say more about this tomorrow because I think I’m about to touch on the real problem and the real problem is not easy to talk about. It has to do with poverty and the way we feel about it and that’s never easy.
Until then I’m going to finish my breakfast, get ready for work, get in my car, and drive the 0.5 miles to First Baptist Church.
My iPhone tells me it will take one minute.