7/11/2008

My continuing thoughts on transit for those who really care and something at the end of the post for those who don't

Via Instapundit, a transit boss isn't practicing what he preeches. A few observations...

One, if the head of the transit system is spending taxpayer money to encourage more people to use said system, he damned well better be good and ready to use that system himself. Sure, he may not do it on a regular basis, but doing so at least during a campaign to push the service saves you from having a reporter writing about it in the local paper.

Two, why on earth is a guy making over $200,000 a year to run a public transit department getting a $26,000 (base) vehicle at the taxpayer's expense to cart himself around? Sure it's a hybrid. But still it's a pricey vehicle that uses gas that most regular transit users probably couldn't even imagine purchasing for themselves. Sure, the guy's job probably demands he be able to get somewhere quickly without having to worry about the (ahem) inflexibility of rail, but a far less expensive sub-compact would accomplish the same goal. Or, using his own car, purchased with his generous salary, just might make it nobody's business to begin with.

Three, somewhat in defense of this guy, this just goes to show that public transit, bus or rail, simply doesn't meet everyone's needs. He himself says the message of the campaign is to "encourage people with less demanding schedules to take the T." Unintentional insult aside, people with "less demanding schedules" will probably greatly limit ridership. And for a transit system to be successfully self-sustaining, it must appeal even to those people who have the luxury of choosing between taking their own car or using public transist. By providing the bare-minimum to those who must use the system and continuing to take money from those who never will you'll always end up with an adversarial situation. Maybe if this transit boss put himself in the shoes of his customers a little more often, he might recognize that.

Look, I ride the bus to and from work most days of the week and am generally grateful for the fact that there's a service that can get me from point A to point B when I need it to. But that's really all it does. Other than that, I've found public transit to be anything but convenient or pleasurable. If I'm one minute late leaving the house and I'm driving, I'm one minute late to work. If I'm taking the bus and that one minute means I miss it, I'll be at least twenty minutes late after catching the next one. If there's any sort of "weather," be it hot, cold, raining, snowing, what have you, I'll have to take that into account more so than if I was driving. When it's raining, pretty much everyone on the bus smells like a wet dog. And few if any drivers bother managing either the quanitity of riders when the maximum capacity is reached or if some are so unruly that other riders are getting off. Fix this stuff, and people who have a choice between their own vehicle and the bus may be more open to picking the latter.

Four, reading some of the comments from the article attacking the reporter and defending this guy was a bit surprising. Of course, this is Boston, so in part it seems to explain the Kennedys. End snark.

And last, but not least, should Milwaukee ever go down the rail path, I can only hope that it hires conducters something like this:

I would ride even when I don't have to.

5 comments:

Nick said...

Ride the train or the conductress?

David Casper said...

Yes.

Real Debate said...

You can tax me for that.

Other Side said...

Mrs. Real Debate may beat the government to the punch.

elliot said...

She can punch my ticket any time she wants.