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Local Action
11 years ago
Hello. I am so happy you formed this group. I am an avid supporter of public transportation. While American media claims America is in love with the automobile, the fact is, most Americans find car payments burdensome. We either are low enough on the economic ladder to have a problem owning even one car, or job and family responsibilities require two or even three cars, especially if there are active youngsters & teens in the family. The answer, obviously, is public transportation. Anyone who moves into the heartland from the train- & bus-rich cities knows the problem. In my part of the country, Texas, it is especially difficult because the climate makes a personal solution, like bicycling, untenable for much of the year. But the sprawling nature of human settlement in the southwest makes the ability of a local bus service problematic. Even if you could get enough of a percentage of the population to use the service from the beginning, there is still a lot of ground to cover with scant resources. The gov't has been able to subsidize public transport only in those areas like NYC and Boston in which enough people supported the idea to be willing to pay into the till. I remember that in Boston the "T" (subway) was once falling into disuse because of neglect, vandalism and crime. I remember that in the 70's, when the city decided to reclaim the "T", there was a campaign by the local gov't to get enough of the upper crust to use the newly renovated trains to break the "culture" that these trains were for those who couldn't afford cars. I think many people joined the campaign as a gesture, like wearing a ribbon for a cause, but after a few rides they discovered that it is not about money. They discovered that they lived under less stress if they didn't have to fight for a parking space on their way into work, they got work done while sitting on the train, their commute was not a source of stress compared to traffic jams, and of course many did notice that if they could dispense with at least one car in the family they'd have a little more money to spend. So Boston kind of seduced the affluent with a great campaign, and it worked. Now I live in Texas, where, when I asked about local bus service, I was given a reaction appropriate to asking about hitch-hiking. Regional bus service was not too much higher on the cultural-taboo scale. I was told where there is a station, but with a great deal of warning about the dangerousness of it. It's not a dangerous bus system. I've used it, and found it clean and well-run, if infrequent. But the culture here is the same as it once was in Boston, that public transportation is, by nature, undesireable. The hurdle of getting support for bus and train transportation in the Heartland and the South is very high. It is a rural and semi-rural landscape that makes concentration of use and scheduling very difficult even under the best circumstances. What can we do?
11 years ago
Welcome Dee! I agree. Rural and sprawl areas are less amenable to the alternatives. So why don't more people move to a more central location? I know a lot of them can't afford to live near their place of work; on the other hand, for those who can, not only would they have to commute less, they'd save wear-and-tear on their automobiles, money, and the environment! Another possibility for many people is telecommuting once a week. And in one of her recent posts, Louise mentioned running smaller shuttle buses more frequently rather than the big buses we're used to. If enough pioneers like us pursue the alternatives--and our elected reps--maybe we can create the culture, and marketplace. Let's hope so!
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