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

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Coastal visions for a transit future

I was raised in California, and I grew up in Southern California in a time when the West Coast was the exciting cutting edge of our vast American enterprise. That's not the feeling I get today, and that's not just because I lost my job.

California suffers from a leadership deficit. That's certainly the case with the Evil Transitator and his efforts to eviscerate transit services in a day when transit is more vital to residents than ever. Instead of state support for adding capacity to meet today's growing demand, we see transit agencies forced to hold Capitol rallies to convince legislators the error of the governor's budget proposal. Will bake sales be next?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country a more enlightened governor, John Baldacci of Maine, is encouraging transit ridership with "Free Fare Fridays."

"As an incentive to ride public transit for the first time or to maybe start riding again, transit systems across the state will be FREE on Fridays through the month of July. Auburn and Lewiston are taking it a step further by extending the FREE Fare Friday program though the end of August."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's pseudo-green vision for California's future features bio-diesel-fueled Hummers idling on gridlocked freeways. That's not the future I want. It's not the future Californians with a real concern for the environment want. More money for transit. Now. It's an investment in California's future that will pay dividends for everyone.

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