Yeah, It’s A Civil Rights Issue

I’ve written before (example) about alternative (and public) transportation as a civil rights issue. Here’s more fuel for the fire:

On top of the most catastrophic economic downturn since the Great Depression, the continued impact of automation, and the shift of domestic production to lower-wage nations, here is a less dramatic yet no less decisive constraint that limits opportunities for many working-age Americans: The bus does not go where the paychecks are.

Nearly 40 million working-age people now live in parts of major American metropolitan areas that lack public transportation, according to anĀ analysis by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. The consequences of this disconnection fall with particular severity on the poor. One in 10 low-income residents relies on some form of public transportation to get to work, according to the report.

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Comments 11

  1. Steve A wrote:

    No transit where I live. None anywhere between my house and any place I’ve worked in North Texas. Email me and I’ll tell you where to send the reparation check. Taxpayer subsidy is a civil right? Personally, I think this is more a symptom of government-run programs of most kinds. The money goes where the political influence is, not where the need is. We might argue about whether the total expenditure on transit is too much or too little, but Light Rail nobody rides is not the best way to serve those that simply need to get to work at Fort Worth Alliance Airport or at Vought Aircraft in Dallas.

    Posted 11 Jul 2012 at 4:43 pm
  2. Andy Cline wrote:

    Steve… Obviously, these things need to be somewhat context specific. But, being the radical lefty that I am, I have no trouble spending your money to help people as I define it ;-)

    Posted 11 Jul 2012 at 6:40 pm
  3. Steve A wrote:

    Andy, that is the difference between radical lefties and most of the American people – simply put, most people think (perhaps foolishly) that they’re better able to decide what to do with their own money than leave it up to others in a place called WASHINGTON DC about what fraction of their money to send back to them after they pay the employees of the Department of this or that. The founding fathers and mothers of our republic felt the same, which is why most of the Constitution consists of stuff the USG is NOT ALLOWED to do. Unfortunately, the courts have voided a lot of the “shall not” stuff via the commerce clause.

    I’m not directing you how to spend your money at the point of a gun like the USG does. However, if you want to do so voluntarily, you know my email – and I prefer small, unmarked bills! ;-)

    PS: I’ll probably spend most of whatever you send on bike stuff, for whatever THAT is worth. Heck, I’ll even smile if you make a post about how my bike is fitted out like a bull’s a@#! If invited, I’d rather use it for transport to CSI training. Just sayin’

    Posted 11 Jul 2012 at 9:14 pm
  4. Andy Cline wrote:

    Steve… :-)

    Posted 11 Jul 2012 at 10:10 pm
  5. Kevin Love wrote:

    Why do I suspect that these transit-deprived places have had billions and billions of dollars spent on car-only infrastructure.

    Car-only expressways, car parking, car traffic control devices like traffic lights. All very expensive.

    All this is socialism for the rich, while poor people get to pay for it.

    Posted 12 Jul 2012 at 7:10 pm
  6. Khal Spencer wrote:

    One of the reason this country is in such deep shit right now is that the average citizen turned his/her home into an ATM machine to buy stuff they could not afford, all the while ignoring that the economic base of the nation was swirling in the bowl on its way to the sewer. So I am not convinced the average citizen has better economic acuity than our friends in D.C.

    The converse, that Plato could somehow ensure that we had wise men in D.C. to do better, is equally wrought with folly. So I don’t know who to support, Steve or Andy. I tend to think that folks like Steve and Andy, whatever their differences, are rowing as hard as they can to keep the ship of state upstream of Niagara Falls.

    The huge investments that President Eisenhower and Congress made in the fifties to build the Interstate Highway System was good in its time. But this is a different time. I think the US will have to invest heavily in new transportation paradigms. My personal view is a lot of that money should go into the fibre optics interstate highway system. Roads need to be cut back, and high capacity systems (fiber optics, mass transit) need to be encouraged rather than car travel.

    Pardon my disinterest this weekend. If you have not tried to do a four mile climb on a race bike on an 8% grade on new chipseal, you have not lived….

    Posted 15 Jul 2012 at 7:18 pm
  7. Chandra wrote:

    I like Khal’s reasoning.
    Personally, I think many Americans are also broke because of greed and the unwillingness to reuse/repurpose things. Wanting the latest technology, the biggest boat, the biggest newly constructed house, etc.

    I don’t have sensible public transportation where I live either.
    It will take me a very long time to get to anywhere, if I depended on public transportation, especially if I have to ride a bus to catch a train or something like that.
    So many times, I use my own vehicles: bicycles + car/truck.

    The type of job one has also may prohibit one from using public transportation or car pooling. I don’t know why exactly, but Americans have become a society that works like dogs, especially in the corporate sector. Academic and government sectors may be slightly different. If you have a job, where you can’t say for sure what time you can leave to go home, depending on public transportation or car-pooling becomes a big challenge.

    Last but not the least, I have known suburbia resisting public transportation from the city to their area. Apparently, some suburbia do not want rif-raf coming over to their precious, unadulterated holy land. Example: St. Charles Missouri prior to 2008. I am not sure if things have changed since then in St. Charles.

    The lack of decent schools in the inner cities are a reason why people have migrated to the suburbs. More dependence on the automobile.

    Peace :)

    Posted 21 Jul 2012 at 9:27 pm
  8. Khal Spencer wrote:

    I’ve worked in either academia or the government (or government contactor) sector all my life. At least in the sciences, we work hard for pretty long hours, as we have to raise our own funds via grantwriting. Personally, I would rather do that then simply take home a salary to support certain big programs that leave me singularly uninspired.

    I think people work harder when they see the fruits of their labor, and the more we go to a corporatist nation with work shipped abroad, the more detached we are from our work. People work now out of sheer panic–fear of poverty. Sadly, the average working schlub doesn’t see the connection between the Walmartization of the U.S. and the deepening poverty we have in the U.S. Jobs sent overseas mean money sent overseas; only the bigshots make the money here at home. You can find them in your local gated community.

    I think we will need a second big overhaul of the economy, i.e., (hopefully) another New Deal. The present system cannot sustain a democracy for very long. But another New Deal will not look like the last one in a globalized economy. I have no idea what it WILL look like, except it better have something in it for the average Joe and Jane other than a shit job, a lousy education for their kids, and Wal-Mart.

    Posted 23 Jul 2012 at 11:25 am
  9. Chandra wrote:

    All,
    My sincere apologies. I hope I didn’t offend anyone.

    I should have written it better. I did not mean to imply that people working for the government and academia do not work long hours. I worked for these sectors myself. What I meant to say was that people working in academia or the government can probably afford to go home at a regular time (decent hour), if they so desire, more regularly, than some of us in the corporate sector.

    I hope this clears it up.

    Peace :)

    Posted 24 Jul 2012 at 10:32 pm
  10. Steve A wrote:

    In all honesty, I think Andy and I are closer in viewpoint than Andy would be comfortable admitting. If government were the solution, China would be what we all aspire to, but I know few in the USA that want to do that. Instead, we enjoy arguing, which is protected in the US against government intrusion. And I doubt he’d even argue against my new “wasteful transit” post. However, since he wants to stick his tax hand in my pocket, he isn’t ready to be a libertarian quite yet.

    Posted 25 Jul 2012 at 9:09 pm
  11. Khal Spencer wrote:

    We put in a nice transit system in Los Alamos, but we can afford it given the high per capita income here in bombtown. It is considered a public utlity just like the roads, sewers, library, and electric and funded directly by picking our own pockets. That actually turns out to be cheaper than a cashbox or other direct pay mechanism. I was on the planning committee that got it running.

    It gets kids, the elderly, and people with easy schedules out of their cars and also provides easy mobility around the town center. But it still competes with cars, and most folks still use cars. Nonetheless, its pretty well subscribed, especially given our somewhat linear layout which makes for fast and easy routes.

    For those dependent on public transit to get off the hill and go to other cities, it sucks. We have to coordinate our local system with the North Central Regional Transit District and that organization is run in the classic manner of government sloth and irresponsibility. I wish we could get a refund on our mandatory contribution to it but its part of the political deal. Classic case of sausage being made.

    I have a good friend who is close to legally blind so he cannot drive. To connect via transit between Los Alamos and the Sunport in Albuquerque, 100 miles away, takes him about half a day. He must link up using our system, the NCRTD, the Railrunner, and the Albuquerque bus. Its a 90 minute car drive and there is a fast albeit relatively expensive (compared to government subsidized transit) direct shuttle. But the shuttle is still cheap compared to the actual cost of driving, including all subsidies. Until we stop subsidizing cars with excellent infrastructure, the alternatives will not be attractive to those who have a choice. Sadly.

    Posted 26 Jul 2012 at 6:44 am