Back from sabbatical, and better than ever

Joël Ramos Headshot
I am back and ready to get back to work with our incredible TransForm community! 
I just had the extraordinary privilege of getting a long sabbatical after having worked at TransForm for more than 10 years. There are a lot of accompolishments to reflect on over my time here. All those Bus Rapid Transit campaign stages, which lasted nearly a decade! Then there is all the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) work we've done over the years for the International Boulevard TOD Plan, the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan, and all of the corresponding policy work (the Development Impact Fee campaign for the City of Oakland, and the Affordable Housing policy for BART). And finally, there are all the transportation-related ballot measures I worked on over the years, including Measures BB and B1 in Alameda County, four transit measures in San Francisco, Measure KK in Oakland, and probably the most important one to me as a daily BART rider, winning Measure RR last November.
Needless to say, this has all been quite a bit of work. Many of these campaigns overlapped, or when one ended another would begin, such that I was rarely able to catch my breath. 

Image: transit on Burke Street in Melbourne, Australia

When I was finally on sabbatical, it took a good two weeks to finally stop the wheels from turning in my head about work. Once they did, and I could finally take a look around with clear eyes, it was like being born again into a wonderful world. I traveled to Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, Australia, which was gorgeous and full of transit and walkable communitites. I cannot recommend it enough for anyone who is a fan of metropolitan cities. Naively, I was not expecting the amount of diversity I found there, and the tremendous transit systems they have in place, with a robust light-rail, commuter rail, bus, bikeshare, and carshare network, and wonderful bike and pedestrian facilities. There were too many interesting things to write about in a short blog post, but suffice to say that we still have so much work to do here, and I'm fired up!
One of the biggest surprises for me was the shock of being away from my dear colleagues and all of the awesome community leaders I have been so fortunate to work with all these years. To suddenly have all of you out of my life as I cut myself off from work was a bit unsettling. I realized that this work demands people who are visionary, passionate, intelligent, and deeply care about others' well-being... the same kind of people who I want as my friends. To suddenly be cut off from all of you was too much like being cut off from my friends.
Now that I'm back, I am eager to get together and swap travel stories with anyone reading this. I'm back in action, and grateful to be in the company of extraordinary people doing important, meaningful work. If you'd like to get together to catch me up on what you have been up to, to hear me gush about how great Melbourne was, or to simply share ideas for what lies ahead for transportation in the Bay Area, please send me an email and lets make it happen. Either way, I look forward to seeing you again soon in the important work ahead. 
Cheers, mates!

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