We asked our current intern, Rafael Sanchez, to write an article describing what it's been like to shift from occasional transit use for choice activities to learning the transit system in a work capacity. Rafael chose to use transit to get to Movability's offices, where we all agreed he would do in-person training with Movability staff - distanced and masked - before we resumed remote work.
While Capital Metro did reduce its schedule during the early months of the pandemic, the transit agency has resumed most of its regular bus service. Furthermore, evidence shows that riding transit is a safe activity, so we felt comfortable with that option.
Read on to hear about Rafael's transit experience in his own words!
Living in West Campus for the past two years of my college experience, I often relied on my feet and the occasional bus ride to downtown for leisure or to get groceries anywhere that is not within walking distance. I also love running early in the mornings towards Seaholm and back. Upon beginning my internship at Movability, I realized that the West Mall station would soon become my main hub to downtown to train for my internship. I had a rough idea how to navigate myself to the Movability office on Congress Ave., but I needed to learn the small details on transit.
As a student at UT, I already knew that I have free access to Capital Metro, which was a great first step in being prepared. The next step was planning my commute time and departures. This part seemed like it could be a headache but there are a ton of apps that have done the work for me! After trial and error with a few apps, the two that I use most often for day-to-day transit trips are Moovit and Transit. I like that both are easy to use when it comes to trip planning, with modern interfaces and easy-to-use instructions. They make it easy to know when to leave my apartment and when to get off the bus.
Another thing that I had in mind was how safe I could be on a bus during a pandemic. While the fear was there at first, I saw how the drivers, the passengers, and the bus itself were all in their best shape to ensure we were all taking care of each other, which was comforting. I quickly became accustomed to the new level of caution while riding. During my three downtown trips each week, I also realized how efficient as well as captivating my commute was. Seeing the skyline creep closer to me as the bus went South towards Republic Square Park, and the short 4-minute walk towards the office space, I soon learned how quick, accessible, and calming transit could be, even amid a pandemic. With access to a bike, I hope to be able to make my commute more active once I hop off the bus for that last block or two, or to go for a bike ride early in the mornings. As a college student I’m happy to have access to mobility options aside from a car, and I can see the opportunities access to transit gives our community, and how important that system is.