By Jessica Mize
When he was just 18, Ed Bell packed his bags and left his hometown of Inglewood, California, on a leap of faith.
“I came to Houston to attend Texas Southern University,” said Bell, outreach coordinator for Parking and Transportation’s alternative transportation program. “I didn’t know anyone or have any family within 1,300 miles of me.”
Fifteen years later, the West Coast native hasn’t left yet and finds himself in his fifth year with UH’s Parking and Transportation Services Department. In his role there, Bell juggles a variety of tasks that includes regularly assessing the Cougar Line shuttle service, working in the call center, assisting with the printing and distribution of METRO Q Fare cards, as well as helping with outreach and promotion of the department’s alternative transportation options.
“One of my main focuses right now is assisting with the launch of a new carpooling program that will give students, faculty and staff a discount on their permit purchase if they commute to campus with two or more individuals per vehicle,” he said.
He’s also heavily involved in the promotion of a new METRO incentive for students who agree to not purchase a parking permit.
“Basically, UH will put an additional $27.50 a month on a METRO card for students who sign an agreement that they will not drive to campus,” said Bell. “The money is added completely free of charge and can be used on either METRO buses or the METRORail.”
Although the program may sound like it should sell itself because the department is practically giving away money, the father of one said it can be difficult convincing people to make the switch to public transportation.
“Trying to persuade people to leave their personal vehicles at home or a park and ride is definitely a challenge because it’s a lifestyle change,” he said.
Bell got his start in the transportation industry shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree in business, when he accepted a job with Hertz, but his interest in the field stems back to when he was younger.
“As a kid, I loved aviation and dreamed of becoming a commercial airline pilot,” he said.
Although he didn’t follow down that path, he loves his job and what he does.
When he’s not busy working, Bell likes to play and watch sports, as well as spend quality time with his son.
“Personally, the proudest moment of my life so far has to be witnessing the birth of my son and holding him in my arms for the first time,” he said.