Blind man hopes to give sight to value of public transit
WATERLOO (KWWL) -
An Iowa man is making it his mission to ride all of the state's fixed-route bus systems to raise awareness about the value of public transit. He's doing it all despite his own disability.
Frank Strong catches a bus just about every day, whether it's to take a ride to work or to a music gig.
"I use the bus because I don't drive. And that's probably a good thing. You know if you don't like my driving, stay off the sidewalks is what I always say. I'm legally blind. I've been legally blind since I was 18," Strong said.
Over the years, Strong has come to love public transit. As an associate director for the Iowa Center for Independent Living in Des Moines, strong advocates for everyone, including the disabled, to consider using buses to meet their transportation needs.
"It's a way to get around economically. You don't have to park your car, worry about parking tickets, and you save a little money on gas. And of course, you know how much gas prices are. So it's a good thing, and it's a safe way. It's safer to travel on a bus than it is to drive in a private automobile," said Strong.
But Strong admits there's still a lot he can learn about Iowa's public transit system. So thanks to a Department of Transportation grant, he's riding all 18 of the state's fixed route bus systems, like the MET in Waterloo. Along the route, he's surveying how well each system performs, including how accessible they are for disabled riders like him. Then he'll determine…
"Do they need any resources? Do they want some additional training for people that we can provide at some future date? Do they want some technical assistance on how to raise some money for their service? So we're doing some various things, whatever we can do to help," Strong said.
Strong hopes that making any needed improvements will only help encourage more people to get on board local buses.
Frank Strong lives in Des Moines and rides the city's public bus system almost every day. So far on his statewide bus tour, he's now ridden through Waterloo, Davenport, and Clinton.