At the WRTA Board meeting on July 21, Dr. Heather-Lyn Haley took her seat as the riders’ representative. By statute, this is a position that must be filled every twelve months by a bus rider from a different municipality than the one before. That’s not long enough, but we’ll talk about that another day.
Dr Haley is a life-long rider of the Worcester buses She was introduced to bus riding by her grandmother, who worked at City Hall, and was the first female paralegal in Massachusetts.
When she was a little older, she rode the bus to and from high school “sometimes stopping at Papa Gino’s or somewhere, with my friends”. Now she regularly rides the bus to work at U Mass Chan Medical School, where she is the Program Director for Community Health. She understands that public transit is an integral part of public health, and personally knows about the limitations of our bus system. “It’s 8/10ths of a mile to the bus stop, mostly flat, with no sidewalk. People drive fast on the street. On the way back, I go an extra stop. It’s a little farther, but it’s downhill.”
Although she has a lifetime of ridership, she is the first to say that she can always learn more about the issues that other riders are facing. From her position on the board, she will be able to press for better data to present the experiences of the bus riding community.
That being said, she sees the “last mile” and the part it could play in allowing or discouraging ridership, as being crucial to the success of the system among those living in the towns.
Lastly, she understands the value of a bus stop that is a destination in its own right: “Being able to wait at a little shop where you can be social, get a coffee, somewhere with a rest room, please, and a shelter from the elements would go a long way towards making public transportation an appealing option for more of us.”
Welcome aboard, Heather-Lyn Haley!