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.
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