I got a phone call from my friend, Mike Davis, this evening.
"Can you get some people together? DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) is reinstating their route through Turner Courts."
I immediately called Lori and Evette, who were at our Saturday Town Hall meeting with DART and had done their best to explain why bus service was needed through the apartments after 8:00. DART had promised that service would be reinstated by March 15, but didn't follow through on their promise. Their representative talked about statistics and dangerous conditions. Evette, Sheila, Lori, and Sylvia tried to help them understand the situation of people who get off work late and don't want to walk through a dark field at 10:00 at night; they told of people who take jobs based on bus service; Ms. Dana Arnette, with the Dallas Housing Authority, commented that she sometimes struggles to lease apartments because transportation is a concern for incoming residents.
Lori, Evette, Dana, Mike, and I met at Turner Courts at 10:00 this evening to anxiously await the bus's 10:15 arrival. A little after 10:15, we saw an older lady come out of the shadows from the end of Bexar Street, shuffling her feet, running as fast as she could. "The bus must be coming," someone observed. Sure enough, you could see it in the distance getting closer to the JBC corner store, which has been the last pick up/drop off point (after 8:00 p.m.) for the last several years.
Mike told the lady not to worry and assured her the bus would wait for her.
She kept shuffling as fast as she could, trying to get to the store.
We told her she could slow down because the bus was going to stop right here.
She kept shuffling and explained, "No, the bus doesn't stop here! It stops at the store up there."
We all began trying to convince her, "No, it's changed. The bus will stop here from now on."
She stopped running, but tried to explain to us, "See the sign. It says right there...No service after 8:00." (I wish I'd have taken a picture of the DART sign from the other side so you could see it).
We assured her tonight that was changing and the bus would now run through Turner Courts after 8:00 on a regular basis.
You should've seen her face. Though my pictures didn't turn out very well in the dark, she was somewhat older, had dress shoes on, and was coming from the church, I believe. The look on her face and her comments were absolutely priceless. "Really?? It's going to stop here from now on?? Oh, thank you Jesus!!" She seemed so relieved, surprised, skeptical, but thrilled. Her excitement nearly brought tears to my eyes.
As the bus pulled up and stopped, Dwaine Caraway, our city council person, stepped off along with about 3 Turner Courts residents who were coming home for the evening. One young adult getting off of the bus was just as shocked as the older lady. "I never thought I'd see the day that these buses actually go through the apartments at night."
Though we planned our little gathering of meeting the bus and witnessing the outcome of the community's efforts to speak out, we couldn't have planned the older lady running for the bus and expressing such relief and genuine appreciation.
Customer service. Valuing the community. It's important.
Sometimes it's important to go the extra mile...or in this case the extra block...to demonstrate commitment, show value, and let everyone in and outside of the community know we're all in this together and we're going to do what it takes to make this community safer and more appealing for the neighbors who currently live there, the children, store owners, bus drivers, and visitors. By working together as a community, inclusive of pro-active city services, we can make this a more pleasant place to live now and a more pleasant area that will attract other businesses and services in the future.