By Riggs Wangchuk, Multimodal Transportation Intern (TLC)
Editor’s Note: Pam Moore recently joined TLC in the new role of Transportation Options Program Manager. Here, we dig into her approach to and goals for the program, her passions and past experience, and why it’s so important for social service organizations and financial coaches to address transportation as a basic need.
Pam Moore, Transportation Options Program Manager, TLC
RW: What drew you to join the TLC staff as Transportation Options Program Manager?
PM: I learned about this position from a Major Taylor Bicycling Club member. The more I looked at it I was really interested in the idea of advancing a new program. It excites me to be able use my community-based programing experience, as well as my training experience in this new capacity. I’ve been a trainer for several years and I enjoy training on different topics! My own interest and my passion in transportation options also drew me to the position.
RW: What has your own experience with transportation been? How do you usually get around?
PM: I have always been a bus rider and a biker. I have been in the Major Taylor Bicycling Club for nine years. I started taking the bus when I was ten years old. I grew up in South Minneapolis but I did gymnastics in Minnetonka. In the summer of ’77, one day a week, my mother couldn’t drive me to the gym so I rode the bus instead. Over time the bus driver knew me and kept an eye on me. I think I’m fearless when it comes to the bus because I had such an early bus experience and it was positive.
RW: You have diverse experiences working in different organizations—philanthropic, educational, and community-based. Are these past roles informing your approach to the Transportation Options program?
PM: Yes! The work I’ve done ranges from direct service with youth to creating youth development programs all the way to working with foundations where I was a program officer overseeing grant giving. For a very long time, I was a health educator overseeing the community education department for a small nonprofit. One thing I have really enjoyed while getting acclimated to this job has been reconnecting with colleagues from my past community-based work. Re-engaging with some of those folks has been a fun way of sharing what I’m doing now with Transportation Options, how it’s related to their work, and how we could work together.
RW: Why is it important for social service organizations and financial coaches to address transportation as a basic need?
PM: Over and over, I’ve heard that transportation is one of the biggest challenges that social service providers are experiencing with their participants. Adding transportation options information and resources to their toolkits and addressing transportation as a basic need enables staff to help the families they serve with what can be one of the most challenging household budget items. It increases their knowledge and helps them become stronger financial coaches and social service providers.
Pam Moore talking transportation options and neighborhood destinations at the Green Line grand opening event at Raymond Station.
RW: What do you see as the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity for people using transit, biking, walking, car sharing, and bike sharing instead of relying on car ownership?
PM: I think it varies. Lack of knowledge is big; many people just don’t know how to access car sharing or bike sharing or how to ride the bus or the train. Others maybe have a bad impression, so the challenge or opportunity in that case is to find ways to change perceptions with a positive experience and address concerns about safety. Access to options is also an issue. I remember a recent conversation with some young people who said, “But we want a car! That means that we’ve made it!” That definition of success is still out there, which means there is still a big opportunity to help to redefine “making it” in a way that emphasizes personal accomplishments—education or a rewarding job or family life, etc.—rather than owning a vehicle. And for some adults who might say, “I haven’t ridden a bike in 20 years!” part of the challenge is picking up an activity that was once recreational and seeing it as transportation. It’s about shifting mindsets and increasing knowledge so that people better understand what options are available to them and how to use them.
RW: After launching as a pilot in 2013, TLC recently announced that Transportation Options is expanding. What are you most excited about with this new phase of the program? And what are you hoping to accomplish in the next year or two?
PM: I’m most excited about the opportunity to bring this to communities and possibly see change over time that comes as people make different choices about how they get around. One of my hopes is that thinking about transportation options will help build community and help people feel more connected to their community because they are experiencing it in different ways. Everything you notice when you are walking, taking the bus, or riding a bike makes you a better advocate for your community; you can really say, “this is lacking” or “this is great” or “this needs improvement.” I am also excited about the benefits in people’s budgets, health, and ultimately their environments. There is this strong element of empowerment—taking control of your ability to get somewhere and experiencing that feeling of accomplishment.
RW: Tell us a little bit about your life and background outside of work. What else are you passionate about?
PM: I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I have two nieces and one nephew and I am lucky to be able to see them often. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel across this country and visit other countries throughout my childhood and into adulthood. I’ve learned a lot and experienced a lot that way and hope to keep exploring!
RW: What has been your most memorable experience as a member of the Major Taylor Bicycling Club?
PM: There have been a few! I remember getting a new bike after six years riding with the club. Honestly, one of the most memorable moments is falling off that bike after I got new clips. I clipped in and then I immediately fell right over and I thought, “Okay, I did something wrong!” Our ride around Lake Mille Lacs every summer also stands out. It is about a 65-mile ride. The very first time was dreadful (three flat tires) and the second time was also dreadful (90 degrees) but not as dreadful as the first. I like challenging myself! No matter how fast or slow you bike, we always stop in certain places together. It’s a memorable experience to be welcomed back by the staff of the same establishments we stop in every summer. Our jerseys are bright yellow so you can’t really miss us!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.