Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Misery Of Mass Transit

Yesterday I caught a bit of Mark Levin's radio show. (A guest host was subbing for Levin.) A caller suggested that a massive tax should be placed on gasoline. He never said what the funds should be used for - most people who engage in such lunacy want to prop up an assortment of nanny-state programs.

The caller's stated reason is to make automobiles cost-prohibitive, so that more Americans will rely on mass transit. I don't know where he's from, but the list of possibilities is narrow: his city has a subway. Such means of conveyance exist only in relatively small, dense metropolitan areas. Most large cities are fairly sprawled; subway or light rail can account for some of mass transit, as in Dallas County, but the vast bulk must rely on buses.

This is significant. It means that most mass transit systems are SLOW. Buses make repeated stops; that takes a tremendous amount of time off the commute. When I relied on Dallas Area Rapid Transit (so much for truth in advertising) to go to work, I had to leave the apartment at 8:30 PM catch the 409 bus at about 8:40 PM to get to work at a few minutes before the shift started at 10:00 PM. I had to leave home an hour and a half before work to make a twelve mile commute.

Relying solely on mass transit limits one's shopping choices. Not all the stores you want to visit are conveniently placed along bus routes. And try getting on a bus after buying some furniture from Wal-Mart.

Then there's the weather. How many of these mass transit hawks ever had to walk 150 yards through a driving rain, wait several minutes for the bus to show up, and then walk two blocks through that rain from the destination bus stop to work? Or stand in subfreezing weather waiting for the bus that's running 30-45 minutes behind schedule because of the icy roads? One should be able to go to work on a rainy day without having to pack a change of shoes, and winter commutes shouldn't have to require ski pants.

And then there's transferring buses. Sometimes transfer waits are almost 30 minutes. That's more time taken out of your day, and more time stuck standing in inclement weather.

If you rely on the city bus to get around, you are a slave to someone else's schedule. It is a helpless feeling.

Update: I didn't even bring up the issue of out-of-town travel. You can figure out the logistical problems yourself.

Update: Our grandparents told us stories about walking through two miles of snow to get to school or work every day. Some of us will tell our grandkids of the hardships of excessively slow bus commutes.

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