My apologies in advance for any perceived crudeness of language in the e-mail. That’s just how I roll, yo.
Please allow me to preface this letter by identifying myself as an infrequent user yet ardent supporter of public transit in our county. The purpose of my writing is to express concern about the budget shortfalls and proposed methods of addressing them, namely fee hikes and reduced services.
I don’t feel fee hikes are appropriate, as they have the potential to reduce discretionary travel by those with access to private vehicles, but more importantly because they place an added burden upon the lowest income individuals who rely on our transit system due to their inability to afford to own and maintain a car of their own. At times in my life these people have included family members and friends, who could find themselves stranded if the route serving their job was cut off and I was at work with the only car in the household.
In expanding on the topic of service reduction, may I point out that the inaccessibility of mass transit due to the grotesque amount of time required to travel to a destination already indicates we’re contending for the title of transit laughingstock of the metropolitan world? If anything, we need to drastically expand service, offering more routes and, particularly, increased service frequency along major transit corridors. I know that of the discretionary transit consumers such as myself, many would like to rely less on their cars and more on rail and buses, but we’re simply unable to due to the unavailability of service to the locations or at the times we need. Trolleys run at intervals of 15-30 minutes, whereas regions with successful light rail operations run a train through every 5 minutes or so. I highly suggest a taxpayer-funded junket to Boston, New York, or Washington D.C. to check it out.
According to the MTS website, the “fastest” trip from my home in OB to my job in Clairemont would take 1 hour 21 minutes, not including 10-15 minutes to walk a bit less than a mile. It would cost me $4.75 to get to work, another $4.75 to get home, based on the regular fare. Of course, I could’ve bought a one-day pass for $5.00. But that’s still about twice the $2.50 gallon of gas that my car will burn running the 30 mile round trip, and compared to a 20 minute one-way trip, it’s taking 2 – 2 1/2 hours out of my day that could be spent sleeping, spending already difficult-to-find time with my partner and daughter, or otherwise just being lazy. While one could imagine the necessity of making some sacrifice for the common good and the environment, adding 12+ hours to the workweek (and subtracting the same amount of time from their family life) isn’t a way to convince anyone to voluntarily abandon the single-occupant automobile. Again, better service is the way to attract greater ridership. If you build it, hopefully they will come. If not, I guarantee attracting patrons that have any conceivable method of avoiding the use of your service is going to be difficult, to say it politely.
One more thing to say in favor of mass transit – DUI prevention. Even though service is sketchy at best and doesn’t run nearly late enough, I’ll bet tens of thousands of intoxicated patrons board trolleys every year instead of getting behind the wheel (probably half of them leaving Chargers or Padres games). I’m not entirely familiar with the proposed cuts, but I hope they don’t include reduced late-night hours. With such a paltry off-hours schedule of one train every 30 minutes, I would like to think we could keep them running virtually round-the-clock, minus a few hours for track maintenance.
Thanks for your time in reading this, and please know any sarcasm perceived was intentional, and any evil comments were intended in a joking manner. The best way to reach me if anyone wants to follow up is leave a comment and send an e-mail to the OB Rag (firstname.lastname@example.org )