Farm stands at bus stops? Markets at transit stations? How about virtual grocery shopping, with just pictures of supermarket products? Virtual shopping at stations is happening in Korea and, perhaps, coming to places around the United States if we all learn a lesson from Philadelphia's transit agency.
Next Bus: 10 Minutes; Milk and Bread Available
Read Commuters and virtual storefronts - a match made in heaven? from the Sydney Morning Herald, via the TransitWire. Phillie transit riders will soon be able to use a smartphone app to shop from a virtual wall of grocery items. Reminds me of being a little girl and having a milk machine in the basement of our apartment house and seltzer and soda delivered weekly (yes, we had a seltzer man). As a New York native, any delivery or convenience pick up resonates; I am sure across the demographic and density spectrums, convenience is appreciated (though few have experienced seltzer delivery).
This is a nice solution for cities and suburbs, anywhere where delivery services work well. But can something like online ordering or shops at the bus station work in rural areas? Can supermarkets deliver pre-ordered items to bus stops? The answer is "it depends," which means odds of success probably increase with flexibility to try an idea that is developed with local conditions, culture and partners.
And Pick Up the Kids
Two of the biggest logistical concerns for working parents are transportation and child care. One transit agency is doing both. To attract good employees who can work the nontraditional hours that transit and other industries demand, Prairie Transit in Spearfish, S.D., "opened its own state-licensed child care facility right in its new transit center." The article, Community care: Day care centers draw workers to towns, appeared in the Rapid City Journal.
Barb Cline, the executive director of the Prairie Hills Transit system and a CTAA Board member, explained the symbiotic needs of employers and parents.
"One of the things we found in our hiring process is that when potential candidates were given the hours they needed to work, they said, ‘I'm sorry we can't work before 6, or I'm sorry we can't work after 5, I'm sorry we don't have child care on weekends,'" Cline said.
Cline knew that she wasn't the only employer with that problem. As a United Way agency, she had visited with others who agreed there was a need for more, quality day care providers in the community.
So the system, which operates a public bus system as well as a dial-a-ride service for people of all ages, decided to take the problem under its wing.
Now transit riders can arrive at the transit center and get the kids. Perhaps groceries will be next.