Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bus Too Crowded? We'll Fix That.

There's an article in the NY Times today which nicely illustrates how hopelessly screwed up our society's structure is. I never remember if Times links work--I think it's one of those idiotic sites which require you to make up a fake identity before you can look at it.

Use of public transportation is booming all over the country, on new and old systems, on bus and rail. Great news, right? At least something's going right. Good social effects to boot--fewer people riding solo in their cars, less pollution, less traffic, more interaction with your neighbors. Now with all those extra riders, we can start rebuilding the systems we dismantled for the automobile.

Except what's actually happening is that transit companies are raising fares, cutting service, and laying off employees, because we have a system where basics such as public transit are dependent on the myth of eternal growth for its funding. No sales tax, no transit. And don't expect the federal stimulus money to keep affordable buses running and drivers and riders employed. No, that's going to build new tracks and buy new buses that cities won't be able to use.

Watch the unemployment rate soar in St. Louis which is planning to eliminate almost half of its bus service leaving many people with no way to get to their jobs, and many customers with no one to wait on them. Here in Duluth, we're still waiting to hear if Greyhound is going to eliminate service, and common sense tells you the only airline will soon stop flying here even as people look to spend millions renovating the irrelevant airport.

Just one more example of the deep underlying and interrelated problems all the hope in the world isn't going to solve. It's going to be a bumpy ride.


Allan Stellar said...

I just spent a few minutes reading through your "favorites". Some good stuff there! Loved the Thoreau piece! And I share your affection for baseball. Is it part of aging that we let other sports go, but we keep the basics? Baseball and walking for me.

And what you say about public transportation is true. BART has raised their fares twice recently. When the first raise didn't affect ridership, they did it again. This time ridership went down.

greentangle said...

Thanks, sometimes I'd try to be more "literary" than my usual post and parts of the Thoreau one are like that. I tried to put a mix of ideas and styles in the favorites so people could tell if there was anything at all they'd like about the blog.

MojoMan said...

If you're not familiar with James Howard Kunstler, check him out. He's pretty edgy, but has lots of wonderful ideas about where we need to be heading. Light rail is one of his pet projects. He convinces me that the personal auto has a very limited future and we need to start investing in much more public transit ASAP. Rail is better than bus because they run on electricity.