Wednesday, April 23, 2008
There's so many things I'd like to write about here, they are popping into my head on a regular basis all day. It seems that the wheels are finally so far into motion that ordinary folks are starting to sit up and take notice. Global warming is a dinner table word, the "R" word (recession) has finally been said (and dark mutters of the "D" word - Depression - have been spoken in the press), food rationing is in place in many major stores, our local Costco is only allowing purchase of one bag of rice, and gas is topping $4 a gallon. Although the writing has been on the wall in gigantic graffiti-sized letters, it seems as if it's finally being read.
I remember writing on a message board a couple of years ago that I thought the government should boost gas to $4 a gallon and immediately invest the difference (at that point, about $1.50 a gallon) in public transportation and bicycle and pedestrian support. I was immediately shouted down, with folks exclaiming that $4 per gallon for gas would ruin ordinary families, that they couldn't afford their commutes, etc. etc. and I said we would see those prices soon anyways, why not use it now and offset everyone's future pain. Well guess what, gas is now approaching (or over, in some places) $4 a gallon and we are NO CLOSER to solutions for the average American. Now that people are actually trying to ride the bus, the subway, their bikes, etc. the infrastructure is either not in place (in many towns, public transport is too expensive, too infrequent, too sporadic, or non-existant) or it is not adequate to the increasing demand. In Atlanta last weekend, we almost couldn't board the subway that we needed to use to get to the airport because it was literally stuffed with people. I had the same experience in D.C. a few weeks back (in this photo above, not even taken at the peak of rush hour). Since I don't live in either city, I'm not sure if this represents an increase in ridership or if these subways have been this crowded for a long time, but either way it seems clear that an increase in available public transport is a necessity.