Friday, December 19, 2008

And December's Commuter of the Month is...

Congratulations to our December Commuter of the Month...Bill Gurley! Bill is a long-time rider of the Halls Express bus, and he was nominated by two of his fellow KAT commuters who thought he deserved to be recognized for enthusiastically promoting transit to his neighbors in Halls and Fountain City as well as his co-workers at U.T.

Gail Chapman sent us an email telling us about a web site Bill had created to help spread the word about the Hall Express to folks that work downtown, U.T. and TVA. (Good stuff!) And fellow rider Doug Brown tells us, "This gentleman lives and breathes conservation in all avenues from home refuse through travel. He travels the KAT Halls Express. A helpful, kindred spirit with no hate towards anyone. Almost reminds me of the hippy days of the 60's. He even has a short beard. To overlook him would be a shame indeed." Well, that's when we knew we had a winner.We asked Bill to tell us a little about his commute, and how he came to be such a staunch supporter of transit. Bill told us, "I've been working at UT for 24 years. Over the years, I had considered trying out riding the bus several times, but didn't get around to it until about three years ago. Now I feel really stupid that I waited so long! The commuters who ride the Halls Express are a diverse and really friendly group of people. We all enjoy, at various times, talking, reading, listening to music, and just relaxing, while commuting to and from work. My initial motivation for riding the bus was my own environmental concern. I would like to see mass transit grow in our area; I would love to see more people choose transit over "riding alone." But now that I have jumped into transit, I have realized the joy of not fighting the traffic on my own, so there are selfish reasons for riding the bus too!"As most people know by now, the KAT Express routes were threatened with extinction last year. The riders of the Halls Express organized ourselves with a Google Groups list and began a campaign of contacting public officials and media outlets to try to reverse the decision to eliminate express routes. Farragut and Cedar Bluff folks also joined in, and eventually we were able to save our routes. All of the Halls riders are great ambassadors for transit!"
We're glad to have such enthusiastic Smart Trip members like Bill, and congratulate him as our Commuter of the Month! We'll be happily sending him a $25 gift card to Mast General Store to say thanks.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Some nice words from one of our Commuter Challenge winners...

We now have 5 people in our carpool and I have really been enjoying the camaraderie. Since different people are riding and driving every day, it's difficult to keep track of who owes who a ride. I invented a system where each rider gives the driver one of his business cards whenever he rides. When the rider drives, he gets his cards back from whoever has driven for him before, or else they give him one of their cards. So far it's worked very well.
Considering the money I've saved on gas, the new friends I've made, not to mention the nice prizes you offer, it's well worth the small inconvenience of working to a more rigid schedule.
--Bill Schwenterly

Monday, November 24, 2008

Our November Commuter of the Month (and his carpool posse!)

Congratulations, and many thanks to Alan Sims for being such a committed carpool advocate. We think this is one fine looking carpool, too!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Throwing the trappings of modern transportation...

I must have heard a thousand birds...
Riding the bike, traveling slower and more in tune than in the car
No longer listening to the sounds of talk radio
Nor the notes of corporate music that all sound the same
None of the traffic and noise of large semis barreling down the highway
Instead, I notice that I hear the sound of a thousand birds.
The ride takes twice as long as to drive
But the pleasure is many times greater
I pedal through neighborhoods, watching the squirrels
Enjoying them playing and chattering, running from yard to yard
Tree to tree, power line to power line
And still, the sound of a thousand birds
There were cardinals, blue jays, mockingbirds, mocking them all
Two robins danced the mating ritual on the deserted stretch of road
Two blackbirds fought, darting through the trees
One diving and attacking the other before the tables turn
And I still enjoy the sound of a thousand birds
The fragrance of blooming trees and flowers
The sound of quiet mornings, hearing my breathing as I climb the hill
To a view of the sun rising far on the horizon
Bathing the light blue to black sky with a crimson, orange-yellow hue
Listening to the sound of a thousand birds
The ride has ended as the work day begins
I'm tired but revitalized, having thrown the trappings of modern transportation
Relying on my own strengths to travel the journey
And as the journey is why we are here, why not enjoy
The sound of a thousand birds.
I think of the travels, how we need to slow down and be more aware
Enhancing our travels by being in tune with the world around us
In tune with those around us, with thoughts of love and friends
In tune with nature and the sounds we are so blessed to hear
The sound of a thousand birds.
As everyone asks how my ride was
I share the experiences, the sights, smells and sounds
And then I answer their question with a single sentence...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Belated congratulations to Home Federal Bank

Belated congratulations go out to Home Federal Bank, winners of the "How Many Can You Fit in a Fit" contest on May 8, 2008. They successfully squeezed 23 people into a Honda Fit during the event on Market Squaure. Photos of all competing teams can be viewed on the Smart Trips website at

Smart Trips in the news!

WATE video on Mast General's program encouraging employees to use alternative transportation:

News Sentinel article:

During Lynn Harrison's morning commute a couple of weeks ago, a 20-mph headwind made the trip more difficult than usual. While the wind didn't seem to bother the cars flying past, it added an extra 10 minutes of pedaling to her ride to the Mast General Store in downtown Knoxville.

In response to rising gas prices, Harrison and others are parking their cars and finding other ways to get to work. They're also joining programs such as Smart Trips, a program of the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization that promotes alternatives to driving alone. The program is sponsoring "Commuter Bucks," which rewards prizes to those who can show they've used alternative transportation to get to work.

Last year 392 people signed up to take part in Smart Trips, said Tina Rolen, program coordinator. This year 564 people are participating.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 looking for commute stories

"Do you fight your way through traffic each morning, even with gas prices surging to record levels? Do you bike to work, or use public transit? We want to see the sights and sounds of how you get to work. Document your daily travel schedule. (Drivers, please be careful not to distract yourself behind the wheel.) If you have a unique way of getting to work, please tell us about it. Send photos, video and audio to share the story of your commute."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gas-saving tips

Seen on Gay St in downtown Knoxville...we especially like Tip #5!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Biking to Work

I have been riding my bike to work everyday since the beginning of the year and I love it. It's great to get a little exercise right before and after sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. I occasionally run into people I know during my commute, and because I'm not in a car I can stop and talk. It's a much less isolating way to travel. It's also a great way to learn just how nasty automobiles really are - you don't know how gross your exhaust is until you spend a few stop-and-go miles behind someone driving a car.

Obsessed with KAT!

I work at the UT Conference Center downtown. My husband, who worked on campus, used to drop me off in the morning and pick me up in the afternoon, paying the $28.00 monthly parking fee. However, he decided to retire in 2005, which left me on my own. Faced with $45.00 monthly parking garage fees, and those ridiculous gas prices, I decided to give KAT another try. I knew that KAT gave UT employees a generous discount on ride passes for the bus; I was delighted to find out just how much I saved. I can catch the 23-Fairmont/Millertown Pike bus less than two blocks from my house, and get off directly in front of my office building on Locust Street.

I’ve been riding ever since, and have become KAT's biggest fan. My husband says I’m obsessed, and maybe I am. I talk about it whenever anyone will listen. I feel so virtuous, walking past my gas-guzzling Buick Century in the early-morning dawn, and knowing I’m saving not only parking fees, but wear and tear on the car, gas money, AND the actual price of a bus ticket! Plus, I’m getting a little well-needed exercise. The entire year costs me about the same amount as two months parking garage. Who wouldn’t choose this route? And with Smart Trips' Emergency Ride Home Program, my last concern about this venue was removed.

KAT drivers are courteous and thoughtful, and the busses are always clean and comfortable. I’ve made several new friends, who tend to see me off the bus in the morning laughing and well-prepared to face my day. I have never been late, and I get home a bit earlier than when I was riding with my husband (he tended to get side-tracked . . . but KAT is always there on time!).

Carpool Your Way to Health!

I carpool with my friend to work and it’s great because, not only do we save gas and the environment but the rides pass by so much more quickly with the great company! We’ve also started going to the gym together at the same time so my carpool buddy has also become my workout buddy and a great friend! I feel healthier and happier all around! Thanks, Smart Trips!

Carpool Buddies

I am now carpooling twice a week with a work colleague, and as we've talked during our commute, I've gained a new friend!

Why I Love My Commute!

My first commute is a bus ride to campus. I typically take the #23, but if I am running late, I hop on the #22 Broadway or #31 Magnolia bus. I love riding KAT for several reasons. I avoid the stressful hunt for parking on campus, while at the same time saving money on both gas and parking. Most of all, I enjoy the company and conversations a ride on the KAT ensures.

My second commute is a four block walk to work. I love my short walk; it allows me time to reflect on the day ahead, or to meander and smell the flowers on the way home.

I lived all over Knoxville in attempt to shorten my daily commute. I initially started riding the #10 Cherokee Blvd. KAT to save my limited funds. Riding the bus became addictive for me; the Route 10 bus crew cemented my cost and earth saving habits with other loyal KAT riders. Before my last relocation, I frequented the all-around-town #90 and the graduate student bus of choice, the #50.

I believe in Environmentally Sustainable Transportation, which for me means finding a way to get to work, school and play without a causing a detriment to the environment, whether that be by bus, walk or bike ride. I love that very little of my budget turns into profits for oil companies. I love the sense of community and time for reflection I now have in place of my formerly stress-ridden solo drive. Most of all, I love doing my part to make the world a greener place. Thank you Smart Trips, for tracking my progress!

No parking hassles!

I used to ride the bus to work 25 years ago when I lived in Fountain City. It was very convenient because the bus went by my house, and the people were very friendly. I was very sad when a new job took me across town and I could not ride any longer. We have since moved to the Gibbs area and I am working at UT. Although the bus does not come to Gibbs, I was thrilled to learn about the Halls Express. I have just a 10 minute drive to Halls in the morning and then I can relax and enjoy the ride. The bus drops me off right in front of my building and I don’t have to pay parking fees on campus. Once again the people are great. I love not having to deal with the traffic and the high gas prices. I figure I am saving at least $1,500 a year by riding the bus to work. We would love to see more people taking the Halls Express – even if it is just 3 days a week, think how much YOU would save.

Saving money!

My wife and I have become a one-car couple. The main thing that has made that feasible for us is KAT. At various times, she drives me to the bus stop (5-minute trip), so she can have the car for the day for errands, shopping, doctor appointments (both hers and her mother's), etc.
Instead of dealing with rush-hour traffic for 25 minutes, I can "leave the driving to" KAT and get in some good reading during the commute.

In short, "smart tripping" has allowed me to eliminate one of our cars, reduce commuting costs, help the environment, reduce the hassle of commuting, and increase my reading time!

Great weight loss plan!

I started my commute via bicycle in August '07. I rode through the winter with the exception of a couple of extremely cold days (25 degrees and under). I have lost 50 pounds and am really feeling great. I can't wait to get back on the road at the end of the workday. And the ride home is never in a rush so I really get to enjoy it!

Riding the bus and carpooling to Oak Ridge

I've been riding KAT and carpooling from the Old City to Oak Ridge for about a year now and it's been great! I fill up my tank every other week instead of once a week and I only have to deal with traffic about once a week during my commute! The rest of the time someone else has the pleasure of navigating through the wonderful traffic snarls that can plague the lanes of I-40 on a frequent basis. It only takes a week or two to adjust to the new methods of commuting and with the Emergency Ride Home program, you're never stuck without a way home. It's great to be able to catch a nap or do a little reading during my commute and I don't get stressed out by driving anymore! I highly recommend that everyone at least try some form of alternative transportation and become better informed on what's the best way for you to reduce the stress and costs of your daily commute.

Biking to Work in Peace

I ride my bike to work nearly every day. I really enjoy getting out on the Third Creek Greenway as I'm riding in each morning and going home each day. That's something I probably wouldn't have the chance to do if I were driving my car to work every day. The greenway is beautiful, peaceful, and quite serene even though it isn't that far from some major roads. Riding my bike has also allowed my wife and me to get along fine with just one vehicle, even with a child at home. That saves us thousands of dollars each year. It has also been a great way to keep in shape. I don't need to go to the gym - I get my excercise as a regular part of my day.