Friday after work I had an interview set up with Matthew Long, the Transit Planner for CAT. So I left work and had lunch downtown before biking over the bridge to North Little Rock where the CAT office was. My interview wasn’t until two so I had some time to kill. I biked through the Argenta neighborhood and through the Melrose Cir. neighborhood and headed east, under the Main Street Viaduct into what was left of the neighborhood between Main St an I-30, This strip of land was once mostly warehouses and industrial buildings to the south and part of the residential neighborhood of Argenta to the north. But most of the homes have been fallen into disrepair, boarded up or razed completely, although there were some interesting structures still standing.
As 2 o’clock neared, I headed back to the CAT offices at 901 Maple St. I stopped along the way at a trolley stop at the far north end of the line on Main St. and noticed there was also a bus shelter here. My biggest complaint about riding the bus has been the lack of information at many of the bus stops however some of them, like this one do have timetables and a map showing the bus route. It was a great example of a multi-transit facility, probably the best I’ve seen so far in the city.
I finally made it to CAT and chained my bike up outside (no bike racks!) and walked in. I met with Matthew and we sat down to talk about Little Rock’s bus system. Below is an audio file of our conversation. It’s not the highest quality sound and I am no Barbra Walters but it was a pretty interesting interview I hope you will enjoy.
Some of the highlights from our discussion were:
- Helpful tools CAT has to encourage ridership like the addition of the bike racks on all the busses to increase coverage area and the increase in security features like more surveillance equipment on busses and the addition of off duty officers at the Transit station downtown.
- We also discussed new routes that will be coming on line soon including the Shakleford Road Shuttle. A bus line that will operate only in west Little Rock and will connect John Barrow Rd, 36th St, Shakleford Rd and Kanis Rd and will provide a transfer line between many of the bus lines in west Little Rock
- I also discussed with Matthew the possibilities of installing QR codes on the existing bus stop signs so people can scan the sign and see what bus stops at that location, where it goes and when it is supposed to come by
- CAT is also looking at social media to make people more aware of CAT’s services. CAR’s Facebook page is currently being built and will allow followers to keep up to date with any route changes or traffic problems that may affect service as well as educating readers about its routes. But probably the most exciting news of all is that by November, Google will have Little Rock’s Transit system on their map directions as an option so that a person can type in their location and destination and it will show them the bus route they need to take, where to get on and get off, and will show when the bus is supposed to arrive.
Finally, Friday night my 10 year reunion was going on at War Memorial Stadium. I had planned on biking but I was running late that evening so I rode with Nicole there and back. I got some strange looks from old classmates when I described what I was doing but for the most part they thought it was pretty interesting and definitely something different.