Vitals: Lisa Brown, 42, of Rockford has been the marketing and public relations specialist for the Rockford Mass Transit District (RMTD) for the last 12 years. Prior to her role with the RMTD, Brown spent 14 years at Cummings Advertising, a local business-to-business advertising agency. Brown is a graduate of Rockford College.
1. If you could choose any elected official – local, state or national – to speak with one-on-one, who would it be, and what would you say? I would like to speak with President [Barack] Obama (D) and ask him how he’s doing. How does he handle and cope with all the staggering issues and problems that must come across his desk hourly, non-stop? That has to be exhausting. I would also tell him to keep up the good work. On behalf of RMTD, we would like to sit down with our city council and show them one-on-one all the great services RMTD provides their individual wards. Actually, that is something we hope to accomplish this fall, so aldermen and alderwomen, get your calendars out – we’re comin’ a ‘callin’.
2. If you were to move away from the Rock River Valley, what three things would you miss the most? If I moved away from the Rockford Region, I would miss the hometown spirit of our city, my job and co-workers at RMTD, and my friends, although I would work hard at staying in touch.
3. In your opinion, what factors have led to increased ridership on RMTD buses so far in 2009? At RMTD, we believe we provide the best service possible with the funding we receive and the revenues we are able to raise. We believe that the economy and gas prices over the last 18 months have caused people to look for ways to adjust their budgets, and they have turned to RMTD, and they are starting to agree with us – it is a great system. With the standard adult fares at only $1.50 one-way and transfers still being free, RMTD offers a great way to save the budget and get you where you need to go. We believe people tried RMTD out of necessity, but are continuing to ride out of choice, hence the steady increase in ridership.
4. What are some of RMTD’s long-term goals, and how will they benefit the Rockford area? RMTD has several goals for the next six months, one year and several years down the road. Our immediate goal is to stay ahead of the budget situation as much as possible. While there is talk of a capital budget, operating dollars for just about every state and locally-funded agency are precarious. We are doing our best to manage our budget in order to keep service on the road. Within the next year, RMTD hopes to complete a route study again. We’ve learned a lot about the procedure and how to approach it since our efforts in 2003, and we believe the next study will be even more comprehensive. Of course, then the challenge will be to implement whatever changes, if any, are needed. Finally, longer term, we continue to work on building our East Side Transfer Center on Lyford Road. This facility will be a state-of-the-art, “green,” multi-use facility for our passengers and community. The possibilities for transit, connectivity and growth once this building is completed are staggering, and we are looking to the future with great anticipation and excitement.
5. Question from last week’s “This week in The Times” participant Clifford DeBoard: What additional programs or opportunities could be offered to recently-released ex-offenders to ease their transition back into the community? I would, first of all, recommend that they purchase a bus pass. This will save them an enormous amount of money overall, and offers a great way to see the city and where the opportunities lie. Passes are unlimited rides for either a week or a month, and sell for $16 or $55, respectively. I would also encourage those integrating back into our community to check out the resources available to them through Careers Etc., a workforce development agency on East State Street that offers job readiness and job skills training.
“This week in The Times” is a weekly survey of people selected by The Rock River Times staff. The column does not accept unsolicited submissions.
from the Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2009 issue