Skip to main content

Transforming a Car-Dependent City

From January through May of 2008 I lived in Dallas, Texas. As far as the city goes, I wasn’t a huge fan (although I loved interning at Southwest Airlines).

I consistently felt overwhelmed by the car-culture. Everyone I knew drove a car. Almost all of my fellow-interns owned a car (how they afforded it, I’m still not entirely sure). People often talk about how cars offer the ultimate freedom. Living in Dallas made me realize why this belief is so widespread, and yet, why it's so misleading.

From my apartment window I could see construction workers hammering away on DART’s Green Line. Every day I imagined how much different my life would be if it were operating. The northern section of DART's Green Line is scheduled to open in a week, and again I’m caught thinking how my life might be different if I lived in Dallas today.

(from Diorama Sky on Flickr)

Even though I lived only about 3 miles from Southwest’s headquarters near Love Field Airport, walking, biking, or taking public transit were all significant challenges. Between streets with missing sidewalks, heavily congested arterial roads, and bus routes that didn't serve the area where I needed to go, my options were limited; so much so that it was easier to spend my energy lining up rides from co-workers to and from work every day.

If the Green Line existed when I lived in Dallas, I could have lived in many potential neighborhoods and had easy access to my internship. I would have spent a lot less time worrying about getting to and from work. I might have left Dallas feeling a lot differently about the city. Who knows, maybe I wouldn't have stayed for that whole summer.

When the Green Line opens next week, the city isn't immediately going to shed its car-loving image, but it is a step in transforming a city where live revolves around the automobile into one that's more livable for everyone else.


Neil Schlager said…
Rob, you are entirely right about the drawbacks to living in a city like Dallas that treats pedestrians and transit riders so poorly. I too have been waiting anxiously for the Green Line to open. After spending years commuting to work from my home near Royal Lane to my office in Oak Lawn, I'll be able to take the Green Line starting next week. In one fell swoop, my daily habits will change dramatically toward public transit and more walking (both positive changes in my opinion). A lot more needs to happen in Dallas, but at least we have some positive trends happening and a lot of city leaders as well as community activists working hard to make Dallas more livable and pedestrian-friendly, and with more transit options.

Popular posts from this blog

In Praise of Southwest's 'C' Boarding Group

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from someone complaining that their Southwest Airlines boarding pass had been assigned A20 (meaning they would be at least one of the first twenty passengers to board the plane). Apparently this person though they should have been assigned a higher number, less their flight experience be considerably spoiled.

Despite the complaints, Southwest has resisted demands to assign seats on its flights, a decision which I personally applaud. I'll admit that I was skeptical when they rolled out the newest boarding procedure, assigning both boarding groups and a line number; but in hindsight it seems like one of the best operational decisions they've ever made. If nothing else, it effectively eliminated the infamous "cattle call" whereby fliers were getting to airports hours in advance and sitting in line on the floor as if they were waiting for the midnight showing of the new Star Wars movie.

When I was an intern at Southwest Airlines last winter, I…

So You Want to be a Southwest Airlines Intern?

My personal website must have pretty decent SEO - because in the past year, I've received about two dozen emails from aspiring Southwest Airlines interns looking to draw on my experience in search of their own dream internship. In the past two weeks alone a few new emails have already started rolling in...

(from flickr user San Diego Shooter)

If you've found your way here, you might be hoping for the silver bullet; a secret tip that will propel you above the competition. Unfortunately, I do not know any inside secrets. I can only share my experience as an internship candidate about two years ago and, rather than responding individually to future emails I anticipate to receive, I hope that potential interns will find the information posted here valuable.

Understand: Southwest Airlines is a very unique company. The corporate culture at Southwest is truly unlike that of nearly every other company. But you probably already knew that, since it now seems mandatory for every management,…

Commuting Meets Technology

I'm finally out of the dark ages. I got an Android smartphone over the weekend and have since been in the process of exploring the Android apps market.  One thing I've immediately noticed is the really wide range of usefulness in the apps. For example, the WeatherBug app is fantastic. It automatically determines your location and gives you exact conditions for that location. On the other end of the spectrum, Google's Goggles app is supposed to be a type of 'visual search' where you snap of photo of something and Google searches for it. In each of my attempts to use it, the app hasn't returned any search results. I even took a photo of a bottle of Pepsi (figuring it as a common houseful item) and got nothing.

Somewhere in the middle is this app called Waze. Have a look at their 'guided tour':

Some people might look at it and comment on the amazing evolution of technology or on the incredible value of social networks. To me, Waze says something important ab…