I waited 45 minutes for a #1 bus in the middle of the day today. Not cool. Then, of course, three line up right behind one another. Not a shiny happy people crowd on that first bus, let me tell you. Maybe it was the blizzard, I don’t know.
There has simply got to be a better way of keeping track of buses. MBTA should have GPS tracking of all buses. And they should be able to run express, pass one another, and so forth. And the Charlie card (great name, wrong spelling) can’t come soon enough — it takes an absurd amount of time to get people on and off the bus. And all the traffic lights should be timed properly.
Today is Earth Day. I take public transit because 1. It’s usually faster than walking, 2. I don’t have to park, 3. I don’t like to drive in Boston more than I have to, 4. I don’t create the pollution that I would if I drove.
Regarding #4: Yes, that actually matters to me. That doesn’t make me some weirdo hippie. It means I’m sentient, and have some idea what kinds of choices affect the environment. Like a fair number of people, I’ve organized my life around trying to be a decent (though decidedly not perfect) environmental citizen. That has less to do with my personal sense of virtue (pace Dick Cheney), and everything to do with an awareness the real effects that personal decisions, taken in the aggregate, have on the world at large.
It would behoove the powers that be to make such decisions easier for people, by fully supporting and vigorously overseeing public transit. Our public transit should be efficient, smart, innovative, wide-ranging, effective and affordable. Why should we settle for what we get now? I refuse to believe Newt Gingrich’s despair in public institutions: that government can’t get anything right, and therefore we shouldn’t bother expecting anything from it. Nonsense. The politicians work for us, our institutions work for them, and I shouldn’t have to wait 45 minutes for a bus. Period.
If we want to revive the environmental movement in the US, we could stand to hold our institutions to high standards. Environmentalists need to cluster their issues and look for ways to gain the cooperation of folks who have concurrent interests. Michael Shellenberger, co-author of the essay "The Death of Environmentalism," mentions in this story that environmentalists have concentrated on "their issues" at the expense of engaging the public about issues great and small. Well, I’ve got a partnership idea for the Sierra Club, et al: For starters, they should insist on public transit getting people to work on time.
I am a public transit voter. Hear me roar.