Suppose You Are on a Cruise…

… where your job is to give two inspiring presentations to a large group of bus operations and scheduling managers.  You want to help them feel that the fairly mundane work that many of them do is important for the future of the world.  What do you tell them?

15 Responses to Suppose You Are on a Cruise…

  1. Dave August 15, 2010 at 3:44 am #

    …imagine it was YOU (or nearest and dearest) out there dependent on the bus! (particularly imagine scenario at night, and in the rain or snow…)
    and; that they weren’t on a free staff pass, so the trip actually has a time and money cost associated with it
    and; that buses are in an upward trajectory at the moment, and enthusiasm and improvements might lead to more funding/appeal, … and maybe not just on transit websites.
    The ‘airlines of the ground’? (after all, people are complaining of aeroplanes just being flying buses… so why not beat them at their own game? Everyone loves airline horror stories, so why not make the bus a better experience? (OK, ‘bus’ vs ‘coach’ style travel aren’t quite the same thing, but you get the gist.)

  2. Mirbrewer August 15, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    Cripes! Never before has transit been such an important and relevant topic when discussing the future of humanity. The structure of moderns society practically compels us to be mobile. Automobiles are, however, not the most efficient means by which a single human can travel. In our technological age, I’m shocked that more corporate leaders fail to recognize that workers riding transit can be productive workers. Not to mention the potential transit has to markedly reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere, which are most likely a contributing factor to the climate changes we are currently experiencing. Should I go on?

  3. Cap'n Transit August 15, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    You are our last line of defense against the diabolical forces of bus bunching!

  4. SpyOne August 15, 2010 at 7:59 am #

    Same people both times, or the same talk to two groups?
    Seriously, as people pointed out above, this has probably never been easier.
    1) as “green” becomes more popular, more people are choosing transit. Operations and scheduling is what makes a transit line useful, and what makes it an attractive choice.
    2) due to the “economic downturn”, more people are being forced into transit with no other choice. If you can’t feel good about providing those truly in need with the best service possible, what CAN you feel good about? Scheduling and operations is all about providing a service that is actually useful: buses (or whatever) that are where people are, and will take them where they want to go, when they want to go there. Every single person who got a higher paying job across town because they weren’t trapped in their neighborhood is a gold star for the transit service.
    3) as we try to switch to “alternative energy”, transit makes that switch more easily than the average consumer. While consumers worry about where they will fill up their new car that runs on natural gas, the transit system is used to fueling it’s vehicles at the garage with pumps that aren’t open to the public, so who cares what comes out of the nozzle? As the people who keep the system running, and running in a way that makes it useful, you are helping to build the infrastructure for tomorrows alternative fuel cars.
    4) same argument as above, but focused on reducing dependence on foreign oil.
    Call it Transit’s Role in our Energy Independent Future. The people who do this job well are national heroes. One should include that, too, in the pep-talk: they are heroes, and folks out here know it.
    They face the daunting challenge of creating a transit system that serves those too poor to own a car so well that, not only can they climb out of their economic condition, but they become people who CHOOSE not to own a car once they can afford one. Even if they fail to meet that benchmark, just going home after a hard day’s work knowing that they did the very best they could should allow them to sleep the deep sleep of the just. It is truly God’s work they are doing.
    And God Bless America!
    Sorry, somewhere along the way I started channeling a political speechwriter, and I’m not really sure why. 😉

  5. Carl August 15, 2010 at 8:08 am #

    It’s up to them to create the most value with the resources their agency has
    It’s an art and a science to deliver the most service and the most useful service with a given amount of resources
    When they optimize it – they create the most value and mobility for the transit-dependent, the most use of transit by the choice riders, and contribute to lowering of greenhouse gases, automobile pollution, and energy consumption.
    There’s real value in what they do
    People will see it every day if it is easy for them to figure out where to go to get the bus and the bus comes frequently

  6. EngineerScotty August 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    Ever see the movie Remains of the Day? (Or read the novel, for that matter?)
    This question reminds me of the scene in which Sir Anthony Hopkins, who plays the film’s protagonist, the head butler at the estate of an English nobleman in the 1930s, gives an inspirational speech to the household staff. He explains to his charges that since the master of the house (one Lord Darlington) is hosting a meeting of British and American VIPs concerning what to do about the rise of Hitler and the Nazis; the fate of the world may depend on providing the guests with excellent dinner service.

  7. Karen Fung August 15, 2010 at 5:50 pm #

    I’m perhaps reading your question a little differently than others. I’m reading it more as a human resources question, probably because I’m currently reading “Drive” by Daniel Pink, a book about motivation.
    Maybe the best thing to do is to start off by asking them what gets them passionate about their work, then through your talk, try to reconcile that with why transit advocates and transit users WANT them to be passionate about their work, even if it is seen or perceived (or even IS) mundane.
    Here’s a hint: try searching Twitter for the words “bus” and “late”:
    I’ve always found the search entertaining. It will get more interesting once more of them are geolocated.

  8. Jarrett August 15, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    Thanks, everyone! One talk down, one to go. 🙂

  9. Nwali August 16, 2010 at 4:25 am #

    What can I tell them?
    Ill tell them to do their job as if they are doing it for themselves and they should make use of the very transit they are planning for.

  10. Ethan Tucker August 16, 2010 at 5:24 am #

    You could highlight the major positive spin-off of the increasing prevalence of BRT systems: these days, Sandra Bullock would have far less difficulty keeping the bus above 50mph.

  11. Alon Levy August 16, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    If the BRT system were under construction, she might still need to jump over a gap in the elevated structure.

  12. EngineerScotty August 16, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    But an argument for rail construction is that light fixtures in subway tunnels are an excellent way of beheading bad guys…
    And since Jarrett’s on a cruise ship, he should sit down and watch Speed 2 for a few hours, so he’ll truly understand suffering. 🙂

  13. Nathan Williams August 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    What bus operations and scheduling managers have the resources from their agency to go on a cruise? My fiance the bus scheduling manager would very much like to know.

  14. anonymouse August 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    I suggest anecdotes illustrating the point that in a lot of cases, having buses that run reliably and schedules with connections that actually work, adequate span of service, etc. can make the difference between being able to get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time and not being able to get there at all. For the better off, it provides mobility without needing a car, for the less well off it can mean the ability to actually physically leave the ghetto, which can be surprisingly difficult sometimes.

  15. Grundfos Pumps August 18, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    Are you asking to feel on a cruise while we are on a bus? Sorry actually i just mes up with your post.