Sunday, July 15, 2007


I used to be able to contribute comments to the local weekly, still-not-weird-enough-for-me rag, Austin Chronicle, until I accomplished my liberation from the phone and am now disqualified, even with the security systems available on the internet, email and a password are not enough for them — while nearly every business is either built on such or accepts it by now. No telling how modern a version of provincialism one is apt to find. My purpose in posting today was not to snipe at the Chronicle, though it did feel good.

I was reading over some old stuff and came across a letter I wrote to the paper last time traffic was the buzz for buses, and realized that what I spoke of then (10/20/2000, before we really had something to worry about) is a more poignant metaphor now, if getting a better federal administration were the project and non participation in the democratic process were the problem instead of buses and lack of riders.

Dear Chron,
I’ve been interested to note that in the recent debate over roads, rails or buses being waged in your letters to the editor, no one has mentioned the heart of the problem. Anyone can quote what a good mass transit system schedule should be, but until the traffic through which it must operate is at least as fast and regular as we expect the buses to be, all the money and planning and voting will be just as ineffective as it always has been. As long as buses carry only pedestrians, they will be that slow.

Until these opinionated drivers actually put their butts on the bus as a daily routine — not just some token visit to sniff at the body odors — no transportation system will get through traffic any faster than the fastest car (my friend has one that can go a million miles an hour and still is late half the time). Yes buses can meet schedules, but not in traffic filled with drivers that should be on the bus! Anyone not willing to do their personal share of making the transportation system better by riding the bus and working within the system through participation and constructive criticism doesn’t deserve an opinion about the solution, they are the problem. Something about a sacred cow/ox getting gored.

Here’s the crux of the matter; rather than the convenience of paying lip service to the environmental good sense of better mass transit through conversation, council meetings and ballot box and then sitting back and waiting for the powers that be to make it so, the basic solution to this vital problem requires that people will have to vote that way every day by riding the bus instead of driving their car to make anything they cast a ballot for work. Spending new money now on anything more than public education about this corner we’ve driven ourselves into can only go to line the pockets of the same bureaucracy that hasn’t done it yet. Let’s get the system we have now working by having it begin to carry people who actually have cars but choose to keep them out of the bus’ way. It’s time to have a true modern social revelation and not just something about which one offers opinions from the comfort of one’s personal air conditioned isolation chamber, sacred cow though it may be here in the land of oil and wide open spaces.

And while I’m at it, what about all these new high tech industries using their expertise to network with their computer-operating employees at home. The savings on parking, work space and employee insurance overhead alone should offer them enough incentive to start today. There’s more traffic off the road and gas money in commuter’s pocket and mass transit didn’t have a thing to do with it.

Just as self interest in auto luxury debilitates community facility, Congress' unheard promises to corporate lobbyists and re-election campaigns debilitate any effective response to the public will.

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