Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh No! This Is Terrible! Too Many People Are Using Mass Transit!

For decades it’s been the same old slogans and soundbites:

You’ll never be able to pry motorists out of their cars. The automobile is too ingrained in the American psyche; Americans will never buy tiny cars or use mass transit like Europeans do. Why should we spend our tax dollars to subsidize a bunch of empty buses?

Or there’s the first person version: “I got stuck in traffic behind one of those F#$%&#! empty buses!” That’s sort of a variation on “I was in the checkout line behind this strapping young buck who paid for his steak and caviar with food stamps!”

I seriously doubt that these buses were ever as “empty” as the Single Occupant Vehicle addicts would tell you. As any mass transit commuter will patiently point out: When a bus is near the beginning or end of its route, most passengers either haven’t gotten on yet or they’ve already gotten off. At that point in its route, the bus looks “empty.”

As a ten-year veteran (maybe “inmate” or “prisoner” is a better description) of Golden Gate Transit in Northern California, I can sure vouch for this. When I got on the bus in the afternoon, sometimes I found a seat and sometimes I didn’t. Eventually enough people got off that there’d be a seat. For the last few miles of the route (I got off at the last stop) there were only a few passengers left. No doubt a lot of Single Occupant Vehicle drones were glaring and thinking “look at that shit, another one of those F#$%&#! empty buses!”

In any case, there’s been a sudden change. Now we’re facing the exact opposite problem. Gas prices have finally pried a few motorists out of their cars, and “too many people” are taking the bus.

Buses are standing room only. Sometimes they’re so full they don’t even stop. Would-be passengers are left standing out in the rain for another hour, hoping that the next bus will have room.

I would’ve thought that when a longtime problem does a big 180, that would be a good thing; but what do I know. Take housing prices. For twenty years, prices were going up and up and up. If you were lucky you might find a 1-bedroom condo for “only” $600,000. Then the opposite happened, housing prices fell, and suddenly “oh my God! A crisis! We’re gonna crash!”

And now, transit officials are wringing their hands helplessly at this mind-boggling new crisis: too many bus riders and not enough buses.

Uhh…maybe this is out of left field, or I’m too naïve or I’m missing something, but…ummm…wouldn’t a possible solution be…to GET MORE BUSES?!?!?!?!? Hmmmm?!?!?!?!?!?

Oh, that’s right. We can’t afford it.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Building more buses would put more people to work, which would require more buses, and more working people, it's a vicious cycle, I tell ya!

June 11, 2008 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

Yeah, more buses seems like a good solution. It's crazy but IT JUST MIGHT WORK.

June 11, 2008 at 5:34 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: God, what a nightmare that would be. More people working, traffic moving faster -- eek!

J: Yup, that sure is a zany solution, but it's worth a try.

June 11, 2008 at 6:45 PM  
Anonymous vicezilla said...

Sadly though, more buses will undoubtedly require the greedy Transit Authority to raise the fare to $20 a ride.
Wherever we leak, the Greediest of the greedys are sure to hang a bucket!

June 11, 2008 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger American Hill BIlly said...

In Guatemala we've got Chicken buses...named so because they aint playin' when passing on the wrong side of the road. They are all American School Buses fitted with Eaton Fuller 10 speed transmissions for better economy. They have a driver, and conductor. The conductor will load all you have; which can be a lot on the top of the bus. The buses are retrofitted with roof racks, and ladders to reach the racks. All the bussing is privately owned. Diesel prices are(two dollars per gallon go to public health care) similar, and a ride from Antigua Guate,Guate,Guate,(finally the capital) was around a $1.50. This a 40 mile trip. I think with a little adjustment this would be possible in the States??????? Oh that's right we extorted insurance. Another thing you'll see here are entire families on one motorcycle....Five all together from father, mother, children, and new borns. Also, I think we could actually get away with this in the states are large boxes fitted to the back of the bike. You could easily fit a weeks worth of groceries, or what ever you can think of!!! Also, of note....All the great auto manufactuers tell us it will take years to create small econimical diesel engines??? Funny Chevy, Ford, Volvo, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and others all have efficient 2 to 3 liter turbo charged diesel engines; all with catalytic coverters, and safety glass. So, I must not be intelligent enough maybe one of ya'll can explain why a diesel Ford Ranger Crew Cab 4x4 with a quote "power stroke diesel" is available, why not in our land of the free?? I talked with several owners of this car, and was told they averaged between 30 to 35 mpg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wake Up!!! "We The People" are being lied to by extremely evil Powerful Power Brokers!! Don't believe??? I'll take pictures at the dealerships!!! Kia has truck only sold here, and in Australia. They don't have the most power, but can haul a ton and half, and are regarded as one of the most reliable. Also, here on the Island I can buy an 18 speed bike with a four stroke motor. They will maintain 15-25 k/ph. What if us smart american's use chain saw motors. I'll bet we could hit 50 miles an hour!! The guy said though chinese made; all components came out of the States!!!

June 11, 2008 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger American Hill BIlly said...

Not easy to install, but very suppressed is HHO/ Brown's Gas. The newer the car the harder to install???? I wonder why it would only get harder to install???? Look up on google Water4gas, and you'll get that hit plus several others. Basically from science class where ya learned that you can seperate the O2 from the Hydrogen is what they are using with great success. Everything I read say it works perfectly; the only negatives is that anymore people don't even know where the different components of a car are; let alone what each one does!!

June 11, 2008 at 9:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

ViceZilla: No doubt, some "entrepreneur" will find a way to siphon off millions from transit riders. "Wherever we leak they're sure to hang a bucket." Ain't that the truth.

American Hill Billy: Those buses sound cool; they sound like the buses I remember from Pakistan and India. They were painted so bright and garish you could almost go blind looking at them.

And the scooter taxis were even more trippy. A little cab that could hold 2 (maybe 3) people, being pulled by a scooter. And those drivers were maniacs, zigzagging in and out, missing cars and trucks by inches. Yeehaw!

The weirdest bus ride I remember was over the Khyber Pass, going from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Everyone put their luggage, backpacks or whatever, on the roof of the bus. There was a guard riding shotgun on the roof, and it was strongly "suggested" that each passenger give a 1-rupee tip to the guard so he wouldn't "lose" your luggage. Never a dull moment.

It makes perfect sense to me that smaller and more efficient engines are available in other countries. Somebody's getting a tighter and tighter stranglehold on the U.S.

June 11, 2008 at 10:12 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

“I was in the checkout line behind this strapping young buck who paid for his (steak) beer and (caviar) lottery tickets with food stamps!”


(Blogger should allow more html formatting, like strikethoughs.)

June 12, 2008 at 12:44 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Republicans don't like mass transit, except maybe the ritzy capitol subway. Too much a matter of providing subsidies so the unwashed masses of have nots have some affordable way to get to and fro'.

However, if the federal government could just clear away environmental restrictions and sweeten the pot for Big Oil companies, paying them a few billion each so they would start drilling the hell out of ANWR and various offshore locations, now that would be doing something to solve the problem.

At least, that's what Republicans believe. Oh, and when billions in taxpayers' hard-earned money are peeled off for Big Oil, it's not a subsidy; its an incentive. Remember that.

June 12, 2008 at 12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tom,
I'm back from hell....job related stuff. More buses sounds good to me since it can stimulate the economy and save the environment. It gives men and women jobs building these buses (instead of shipping them China, Peru, Columbia or whatever other developing country they decide to exploit for cheap labor)and driving them too.

I live in NYC where gas has hit $4.50 and NJ is where everyone is going for cheap gas. I don't drive (don't really need to) so the bus saves my life. Yay for buses.


June 12, 2008 at 2:01 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

It is coming close to buying a horse and buggy since even the transit system will eventually falter due to ever increasing gas prices, and mass unemployment.

Maybe the Amish knew more than we think.

June 12, 2008 at 4:51 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: You're right, conservatives have some wacky definitions of "subsidy" and "incentive." Mass transit, which benefits everybody because it gets traffic moving, is a subsidy of course. And yes, those multi-billion dollar handouts to Big Oil, Halliburton and Blackwater are "incentives."

For that matter, the airlines, our auto industries and all our highways -- these are all heavily subsidized. The wingnuts' ultimate wetdream is probably to "privatize" mass transit so that a few entrepreneurs can charge $40 for a crosstown bus ride.

Jo: Welcome back. Yes, more buses would be a total win-win. More jobs created, traffic moving faster. I don't remember the numbers, but I've seen statistics on how many billions of dollars our economy loses each year because of traffic jams. It's pretty staggering.

Larry: You never know. Maybe some combination of horse and buggy and telecommuting.

June 12, 2008 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger American Hill BIlly said...

The Buses are painted just as you described. There are also the Tuk-Tuks that you mentioned. I think they have a 400 or 600cc engine, and will hold between two, or three small passengers.
I never had the balls to get on the chicken buses after I found the police doing rutine checks.....to make sure the driver wasn't drunk?????

June 12, 2008 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

American Hill Billy: Those buses sound neat. Drunk driving in that kind of crazy traffic -- man, talk about living on the edge.

June 12, 2008 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Tom long time no see. How ya be my good man?

If there is anything good to come out of this gas price mess it is that mass transit is being used more. and people are not dying and the world is not ending because of it. I hope that it forces my state to step it up and give more funding to mass transit to better bridge the gaps we have present.

June 12, 2008 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ricardo: Welcome back. The last time I checked your blog, you either hadn't posted in awhile, or you were announcing a hiatus, or something. Glad to see you've got some recent posts. I'll stop over.

Yes, this might be the silver lining in the energy crisis -- people finally getting out of their cars and using mass transit. Now if we can just provide enough buses for them, before they get back in their cars with a vengeance.

June 12, 2008 at 6:44 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Larry wrote: "It is coming close to buying a horse and buggy . . ."

I wouldn't rush into anything. If too many opt for horses and buggies, the hedge funds, big institutional investors and individual greedmong . . .er, financiers, will bid up futures contracts on oats and horseshoes. They will then hold their swag until prices of those things rise to levels that will ensure them obscene profits. Then, they'll sell their holdings off at a stately pace, probably in collusion with others who hold oats and horseshoes contracts.

And it's all quite legal, thanks to one of the worst, if not the all-time worst SOBs to ever serve in the U.S. Senate, Phil Gramm of Texas.

If there was any justice left, Gramm and his equally crooked wife would've been found dangling from a tall tree out past the edge of town years ago, literally out of breath.

Things being the way they are, though, Gramm has a flush lobbyist job and is — who else? — John McCain's campaign co-chair and economic advisor.

If that leaves you feeling like you've just been to see a proctologist with a hot poker and a twisted sense of humor, welcome to the club.

June 12, 2008 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: I just recently found out about Gramm working with McCain's campaign. Somebody needs to drive a stake through that bastard's heart once and for all.

“a proctologist with a hot poker and a twisted sense of humor” — LOL. Great description.

June 12, 2008 at 11:08 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Yeah Tom I did go on hiatus. Had bloggers burnout. But there is a wealth of new material.

We need buses and trains. Our rail system is in the dark ages.

June 12, 2008 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ricardo: Glad you're back. You're right, our rail system is pitiful. Most of Europe and a lot of Asia leaves us in the dust when it comes to trains (mass transit in general for that matter).

June 12, 2008 at 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all Transit is a money loser. The best we can do is lose less money.

Everything being equal this would be a boon for transit.

Except they're just as effected by rising gas as we are so in the midst of a transit boom they are talking about cutbacks and fare hikes

Go figure


June 12, 2008 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: It's true that mass transit will never pay for itself. But that's true of a lot of government functions (the military, police and fire departments, education, etc.). With crippling traffic and high gas prices, transit should be a high priority.

But it figures that some transit agencies are raising fares and cutting service. Golden Gate Transit kept threatening to eliminate the #75 bus even though it was standing room only, morning and night.

June 13, 2008 at 1:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah but no one ever ask the Police, Fire, and Military to make a profit!

"But it figures that some transit agencies are raising fares and cutting service. Golden Gate Transit kept threatening to eliminate the #75 bus even though it was standing room only, morning and night."

That's because it goes to Sonoma County. They would never touch the little local hoppers around Mill Valley, Ross and Tiburon


June 13, 2008 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: I suppose that's because Sonoma County is considered too hick or not Yuppie enough. A lot of people still think that, even though Sonoma County has gotten so gentrified lately, it's almost an honorary Mill Valley. But public perceptions are slow to change.

June 13, 2008 at 12:25 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Tom wrote: "I just recently found out about Gramm working with McCain's campaign. Somebody needs to drive a stake through that bastard's heart once and for all."

Agreed, but it won't work. Gramm doesn't have a heart.

June 13, 2008 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: Oops, you're right about that.

June 13, 2008 at 11:39 PM  

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