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April 22, 2005

A bad transit day on Earth Day

I waited 45 minutes for a #1 bus in the middle of the day today. Not cool. Then, of course, three line up right behind one another. Not a shiny happy people crowd on that first bus, let me tell you. Maybe it was the blizzard, I don't know.

There has simply got to be a better way of keeping track of buses. MBTA should have GPS tracking of all buses. And they should be able to run express, pass one another, and so forth. And the Charlie card (great name, wrong spelling) can't come soon enough -- it takes an absurd amount of time to get people on and off the bus. And all the traffic lights should be timed properly.

Today is Earth Day. I take public transit because 1. It's usually faster than walking, 2. I don't have to park, 3. I don't like to drive in Boston more than I have to, 4. I don't create the pollution that I  would if I drove.

Regarding #4: Yes, that actually matters to me. That doesn't make me some weirdo hippie. It means I'm sentient, and have some idea what kinds of choices affect the environment. Like a fair number of people, I've organized my life around trying to be a decent (though decidedly not perfect) environmental citizen. That has less to do with my personal sense of virtue (pace Dick Cheney), and everything to do with an awareness the real effects that personal decisions, taken in the aggregate, have on the world at large.

It would behoove the powers that be to make such decisions easier for people, by fully supporting and vigorously overseeing public transit. Our public transit should be efficient, smart, innovative, wide-ranging, effective and affordable. Why should we settle for what we get now? I refuse to believe Newt Gingrich's despair in public institutions: that government can't get anything right, and therefore we shouldn't bother expecting anything from it. Nonsense. The politicians work for us, our institutions work for them, and I shouldn't have to wait 45 minutes for a bus. Period.

If we want to revive the environmental movement in the US, we could stand to hold our institutions to high standards. Environmentalists need to cluster their issues and look for ways to gain the cooperation of folks who have concurrent interests.  Michael Shellenberger, co-author of the essay "The Death of Environmentalism," mentions in this story that environmentalists have concentrated on "their issues" at the expense of engaging the public about issues great and small. Well, I've got a partnership idea for the Sierra Club, et al: For starters, they should insist on public transit getting people to work on time.

Here is Bad Transit. And here, on the other hand, is Good Transit: Especially see stomv's terrific suggestions.

I am a public transit voter. Hear me roar.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 04:23 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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Charley had plenty of time today to ponder ways to get T buses to run more efficiently:

I waited 45 minutes for a #1 bus in the middle of the [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 22, 2005 8:24:59 PM


We just posted an Earth Day commentary by John Bewick, available here http://www.badtransit.com/guestcommentary_more.php?id=1745_0_9_0_M which speaks of the T's "Greenbush" project, just one of the many examples of the MBTA's "environmental commitment". True Earth-raping will begin with the expansion to Fall River, et al.

Another T accomplishment that comes to mind was last year's [i]record fine[/i] imposed by the EPA against the T. The MBTA, with its creative and well-paid P-R staff, turned this lemon into lemonade. http://www.badtransit.com/?forcepod=WeBeGoodNow%20#PHOTOFEATURE

I think really that the only connection between "Earth" and the "MBTA" is that they're currently on it and continue to stain it. Hopefully, if the tax and farepayers eventually wake up, the MBTA will be a distant memory except for the possibility of an increase in the prison population, and we can for once have a real transit system in Boston and Massachusetts that serves commuters while respecting The Earth.

Unfortunately, I don't see this outcome at all. Instead I see the T power-grabbing what's left of AMTRAK's regional service, and balooning itself into an even larger, more corrupt, and more thoroughly mismanaged mess than it already is.

The cashflow is too good, and the entrenchment into the political, social power, and business realms are far too deep.

Happy Earth Day indeed.

Posted by: Mark Richards | Apr 22, 2005 4:57:15 PM

Mark - do you think a new chairman of the T can make inroads into any of these issues, or does the whole culture have to change first? I like what I know about Dan Grabauskas. Your thoughts?

Posted by: David | Apr 22, 2005 9:24:04 PM

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