There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A modest proposal

Wherein the author offers a Swift idea for enticing more people to ride Sacramento Regional Transit.

With a special thanks to History from 1729 to 1954.

* * *

It is a melancholy object to those who drive alone through this great town or travel in the county when they see "pretty scary folk; gang member looking people; smelly street people; intoxicated/drugged up people" on a bus or riding light rail.

I think it is agreed by all parties that the prodigious number of "those people" is in the present deplorable state of the region a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of coping with the problem posed by "those people" would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the region.

As to my own part, I shall now humbly propose my own thought, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

Our nation was founded on the principal that all men of property were created equal, and the right to make property of men (and women and children) was every bit as necessary to the well-being of our nation's economic vitality as ownership of cows and goats.

Today, we face a global environmental catastrophe that can only be met by a shared sacrifice by all of Earth's inhabitants. Something must be done, and I propose a modest proposal necessary so that more people will choose to ride Sacramento Regional Transit. As I have said before (see this article), choice-riders are the key to our salvation.

Clearly, we cannot ask people who already pay a hefty financial premium in order to separate themselves from "those people" to leave their personal vehicles behind in their gated communities without some effort to ease the discomfort they must necessarily experience when once again forced to acknowledge the inconvenient existence of "those people."

To create more choice-riders we must go back to our historical roots, to the original thoughts of our founders.

In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court established the justice of "separate but equal" and in that ruling will we find the answer. The majority of the court rejected the view that a law requiring separation implied any violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Instead, it contended that the separation was only a matter of public policy.

By going back to our founding principals, we can make it possible for more people to become choice-riders of transit.

Here's a copy of the model for this proposal:

It only takes a few very cosmetic changes to see the beauty of this proposal:

Separation of riders -- Required

Every person operating a bus line in the city shall provide equal but separate accommodations for choice-riders and "those people" on his buses, by requiring the employees in charge thereof to assign passengers seats on the vehicles under their charge in such manner as to separate the choice-riders from "those people," where there are both choice-riders and "those people" on the same car; provided, however, that "those people" who are nurses in charge of choice-rider children or sick or infirm choice-riders, may be assigned seats among the choice-riders.

Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting the operators of such bus lines from separating the riders by means of separate vehicles if they see fit.

Were it not for the misguided opinions of a noisy rabble, this system would still be in effect today in many parts of this country and transit would still be a choice for more than just "those people."

I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.

5 comments:

ByJane said...

This is an excellent idea. I applaud your foresight, insight, and side sight, not to mention your ability to use the grand and glorious heritage bequeathed to us by our British forefathers to your own ends. Except--Swift's idea was patently absurd, whereas yours, yours is--I bet there are people who will urge such legislation.

John said...

I will argue that this idea is no more absurd that Swift's. In fact, if one were to combine the two, it might be possible to reduce the problem rather than just crowd it in the back of the bus. And as an added bonus, imagine the baby back ribs?

ByJane said...

okay, you win the gross-out award--but then you ARE a guy!

and what I meant was--yours is not at all absurd, and there are people who will like it, etc. etc. Some, in fact, are already promulgating it. On the campaign trail, I think. And in the White House.

wburg said...

If it passes, then by Jim, you'll certainly have something to Crow about!

Maya said...

Awesome. Bravo!