Yesterday, The Bee did its best to cast Sacramento Regional Transit in the worst possible light, including a selection of very dark photos of women alone on dark station platforms that left no doubt of their intended message. And the combination of the article and the photos was helped along by incompetent caption writing.
What's wrong with this back page caption: "Perris Williams, 19, waits for the light-rail train at the Meadowview station to take her home to the Elk Grove area."
Well, let's start with: Light rail doesn't go to Elk Grove or anywhere near what might be labled "the Elk Grove area."
The image of a woman waiting at night, alone, at the end of the Meadowview light rail line for a nonexistent train to Elk Grove certainly underlines the next sentence of the caption: "Critics of the transit system say it’s limited in range and inconvenient, factors that both stand as barriers to increased ridership."
Of course, no story about transit would be complete without a reference to "those people."
In a survey, three of 10 riders said they're uncomfortable at times on trains. The complaints include: People who smell bad, talk loudly on cell phones or swear, rowdy teens and the frequent absence of fare checkers to prevent freeloaders.Three of 10 riders are uncomfortable -- at times? Can we assume that seven in 10 people are comfortable all the time?
The article stirred the nest of transit foes in the local blogosphere. One conservative political blog offered this "insight" before reprinting the entire aritcle:
Issue: In private industry when the consumers won't buy, the business closes. In government, they throw money tax dollars at problem.I don't expect the newsroom to be an extension of RT's public relations office, but it would help if news articles at least showed some genuine familiarity with the transit service in the region.
1. Why won't the Sacramento government understand they are wasting tax dollars, or does it matter to them?
2. Will the voters throw out those who continue to throw money at a system that commuters do not want to use?
3. How much State money, tax dollars, are being wasted on this system?
4. City admits it is wasting Federal tax dollars on extension of system that won't be used.