Transportation Drives Our Lives

Josh Baker

Josh Baker is being honored as a Transportation Ladders of Opportunity Champion of Change.

The way we view transportation really needs to be about the people. Often times, we are focused on the actual vehicle, the bus stop, or the clearly visible identifiers of the service. Unfortunately, what this does is allow us to lose sight of what those devices are there for. Consider that when you look at a bus driving down the road at capacity in Los Angeles, or a subway pulling into a crowded station in New York, it is easy to see how much these services are needed. But it’s not always this clear. Rural areas provide transportation operators with an entirely unique set of challenges. As human beings we really have a hard time understanding what all of the needs are and how to solve them. This sometimes results in our having trouble addressing the needs of those living in more remote or rural areas.

How then can we help everyone throughout our great country when their situations or circumstances are so different, yet so similar in importance? Well I tend to look at it simply as a puzzle, a challenge that can often take months, years, or decades to complete. The approach is simple: Take pieces that are different shapes and work to fit them in and complement each other to form a complete picture. This takes time. When you sit down to try to work out the solution, you have to examine the edges of the piece, understand their curves or sharp angles, then move them around until you find a suitable fit for them. Patience like this is a key part of ultimate success in driving change and in the advancement of transportation. Solving the puzzle is what we did in Radford. We looked at the situation, identified how it was unique and needed to go together, then sat down together to figure it out. Moments of frustration are inevitable and tension is sometimes present, but in the end the reward is priceless. When you get those pieces all snug and meshed together, well you have quite the impressive picture.

I was fortunate in this project to be part of a very special organization with an incredible and special mission: to make a difference by changing lives. New River Valley Community Services (NRVCS), as its name implies is all about community service. From the individual needing special assistance to live their life, to the person in crisis who just doesn’t see how they can go on living, NRVCS is about helping others, something easily complemented by our unique and expansive transportation services. With this background and considering the folks I work with every day, partnering with the City of Radford and Radford University to launch Radford Transit was a clear step forward in helping to succeed at our mission.

It’s easy to talk about what you do and why you do it, but it’s difficult to know where to start and where to end. With that said I will sign off with some personal thoughts to anybody who might be out there reading this. When you look at your interests, goals, and desires, always remember that with enough focus and drive you really can accomplish just about anything. That’s the beauty of the American way. We (as a nation) don’t just sit back and wait for something to come to us, we make it happen and we do it best. I’m proud to be a citizen of the United States of America and honored to have been selected as a Champion of Change. For all of us, service to our country should be first and foremost in our minds every day, enhancing lives and being a champion of change is not something isolated to one person or a small group of people… it really is in all of us.

Josh Baker is the General Manager of Radford Transit and the coordinator of all Facility and Transportation Services for New River Valley Community Services (NRVCS), a public provider of behavioral health services to residents of the New River Valley in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

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