Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Should UTA Change its Meeting Times?

Picture of a Spokane Transit Authority bus.Image via Wikipedia

For those of us that have jobs, making Utah Transit Authority board meetings can be a difficult thing since a majority of them are held in the afternoons at the UTA headquarters. If you plan to attend you need to take a day off work or make other arrangements to make the meeting. While some employers may have no problem with this, others who have to schedule for customer service needs may have a bigger issue with it.

So the question is, should the meetings be changed to the evenings so that more people can attend? I say the answer to that question is no.

While some may argue that more people would be able to attend the meetings if they were in the evening, in my experience the time of the meeting makes little difference on the number of people attending the meeting.

For example the Spokane Transit Authority holds its meetings at 5:30pm and its headquarters is within a five minute bus ride or drive from downtown Spokane. However unless there is major cuts planned in bus service, the meetings see little public participation.

To put the issue into better perspective lets take a look at city council meetings. The city of Spokane holds their council meetings in the evenings. For business reasons I attended almost every meeting during a several year period in 2001-2002 period. The average attendance during that time was twelve. To put that into greater perspective that was something like two one thousanths of one percent of the population.

To make those numbers sound even worse, six of those people were a part of a group that attended the meetings that were Spokane's CAVE people (Citizens against virtually everything).

The only time the city council chambers were full was when they were proposing massive changes to the building code to concentrate new high density development around major transit stops.

So changing meeting times do not equate to better attendance at meetings and should not be considered for changing meeting times for transit agencies or other government agencies for that matter.
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