A native New Yorker analyzes politics from a California perspective
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Public transportation careens to the abyss
At times like these, when public transportation systems punish loyal regular users and even sometimes users with service cutbacks and higher fares, the question that's never asked is, "who is paying for these systems?" And the not-too-difficult answer is, "the taxpayers." So why would major transit systems around the country be discouraging ridership at the same time they are attracting more and more users? It doesn't make any sense -- in fact, it's counterintuitive -- yet that seems to be precisely what is happening, for example, in St. Louis, in Washington, in Denver and in New York City, according to the New York Times. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, it's the same story, with the Bay Area Regional Transit (BART) district proposing fare increases and service cuts, and local transit services doing the same. Government should be encouraging people to ride public transportation to reduce the pressure on already-crowded highways and reduce pollution, not the opposite. It's the public sector gone mad. Transit system managers have been losing touch with the riding public for decades; maybe now they've gone completely over the edge. After all, they get paid enough -- of our tax money -- to drive or be chauffered to work and never have to venture onto public transit like the rest of us. Why don't the elected officials who oversee transit agencies say something? In California, that answer is obvious and it's disgraceful. Politicians are still fighting over a state budget that is eight months overdue, and there is no resolution in sight. But they're still getting paid -- with our tax money. What is the penalty for elected officials who do not live up to their responsibilities? That's right, vote them out of office, and elect people who understand that the society's needs come first.