Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our intractable transit problem, and a solution

This blog post is in two parts. Part 1 states the problem. Part 2 states the solution.

Let's start with Part 2.
* The voice of the people must be ignored, as the people are misinformed.
* The voice of the government must be overruled, as wrong-headed beliefs are in control.
* The power of the media must be nullified, as it does more harm than good.
* The voice of labor must be heard and heeded, but they are not wholly in the right.
* The plans of transit management are roughly accurate, but like labor, not wholly in the right. More they are incomplete than incorrect.
* Ignore labor-management disputes. Just give labor what they want. It's the cheapest and simplest way.
* Different taxing structures must be put in place, and quickly, and against the will of the people and their representatives. See first two bullets.
* Revenues to fund transit must increase $30 million to $50 million annually, locally, beyond what the current taxing structure now brings in.
* All cut bus routes and trips must be restored, including the full TDP implementation.
* Beyond that, $20 million additional must be spent to implement information technology improvements that will make the system more usable by everyone.
* Not to act to do the above is worse, as we will lose a system that actually does work. See first bullet.

That is the solution.

Now let's move on to Part 1.

One time back in college, the dining halls had a fly infestation. Flies around trash are nothing new, of course, but that one month, they were out of control everywhere. I'll spare the details, save one. Someone painted a sign saying "Welcome to [X] Dining Hall! Order sh*t. Can 10,000,000,000 flies be wrong?"

No, indeed, ten billion flies are not wrong, but that doesn't change the fact they fed on sh*t, and the sh*t was both plentiful and of excellent quality. It was not possible to enjoy eating, so pervasive was the cloud of flies. And with that as intro, we turn now to public transit in metro Pittsburgh.

It is simply not possible to discuss this topic in a rational manner at any level with any significant number of people. The vast majority of people with an opinion on the topic got it from the media in some manner, with the most opinionated set coming from hate ^H^H^H^H talk radio. Most opinions come from a fairly narrow set of sources: PAT staff. Union leadership. The Allegheny Institute. A political party machine, either one, any level.

Everyone thinks themselves right. Everyone has a piece of the story. I alone have no serious ties to any party yet am properly informed by all that matter.

Probably I pigeonhole well, too, though in the past year I have tried to consider all sides. I took a good bit of heat from various quarters following the many blog posts I wrote over the last year. (List of links: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22) Some of that criticism indeed was accurate, enough so at least that I now try to listen more and speak less.

With the political machinery returning to its annual routine, and the dreaded cuts now in place, it is time to return to the matters at hand. Wounds are raw, and the salt shaker is near. Add to that the sheer number of badly misinformed and highly opinionated people, and what you get is a constant pointless argument.

I am at a loss. Reason is ignored. To do any more than I've done is to resemble a child having a temper tantrum. Government reps of both parties are not only not helpful, they are anti-help. The media is worse, feeding us even more sh*t while smelling blood and circling for some imminent pending kill. Democracy as a viable form of government can only work when the populace is educated, and that isn't happening here. How's your German? Wir sind gefickt. [translate]


  1. A sensible post overall, one that could have been written in many, many cities.

    But with all respect, I disagree that giving labor what it wants is a solution.

    Labor is like any other organization: It needs conflict and hostility to justify its existence. If you give labor what it wants, it will feel entitled to that, and seek more. You might want to research the last year's history of labor-management relations at San Francisco Muni for a sense of how far out of control this sometimes gets.

    A healthy labor-management tension is essential to any functional and efficient organization. Collapsing this tension in either direction leads firmly away from any long term solution, in my experience.


  2. Don't get discouraged. We grow every day. The economics are on our side. The fossil-fuel industry is powerful, but their system is unsustainable.