Concerned, hoodwinked and confused

This is the way I feel every time I get ready to catch the bus. I feel concern for the mentally and physically challenged, people who have to go to work, running errands, the elderly with medical problems, the poor and deprived. “Hoodwinked” because, in some instances, I have to rely on a company for transportation that falsely advertised, saying they were making the bus services more user friendly, but have made service more limited in usage than previous times because of availability.

“Confused” as to why do you have so many buses going in so many directions? No one is catching them, yet there are people downtown waiting hours for a bus after a certain time in the day. Sometimes the wait is 45 minutes to an hour. RMTD administrators are acting like they are the Greyhound bus station, taking people to the city instead of in the inner city. We’re spending more time being transported than actually doing what we need to do.

At certain times in the day, a bus driver does two routes, so this gives way to more time waiting for a bus. He cannot split himself in half, yet he is assigned two routes, and the other route is not operative because he is that route. Confused because RMTD has buses leaving at the same time buses are coming into the transfer center, and if you or the bus driver is aware of this, you may get to catch your bus. But depending on which way it’s going, you may have to pay another fare. I was told this at one particular time.

There are many problems facing each individual who rides the bus these days, and the stories are getting more and more ridiculous, but they are true. I don’t know what it is going to take to get RMTD’s attention, but I will do my best to make a difference. We as people need to stop sitting around talking about what needs to be done and do it. I’m not only talking about people who ride the bus; I am also referring to those bus drivers.

Some of us have known all of you for years; we have shared stories about our families and yours, and we have watched our families grow up, but yet you act like the problem is just ours. What have you done to help us in this struggle? In this case, you are either part of the solution or part of the problem. How much more must we endure before someone speaks up for us? I’m speaking of the love we have for most of you, and the support that we would give you if the shoe was on the other foot. Yes, I’m asking you, what are you doing for us, the passengers, the people who help pay your salary?

I was watching the HBO version of the movie Boycott, about Rosa Parks’ defiance in refusing to give her seat up to a white man in 1955 in Montgomery, Ala. Through this defiance, after her arrest, they decided to do something about this segregation law, and they boycotted the buses. Martin Luther King and others organized what was supposed to be a one-day boycott into making history for African-Americans. As it evolved, they realized that it was not just about sitting at the front of the bus; it was the quality and a way of life that was being oppressed. Rockford may not be Montgomery, Ala., but the RMTD has taken part in the oppression of the way of life for groups of people. Inevitably, a change is going to come, and I’m asking the people of Rockford: What will you do to help implement the change?

Sandra Thompson is a local resident and a student.

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