Thursday, June 07, 2007

Global warming starts in your driveway

Credit: iamtherevolution[dot]org

I have lived in the greater Los Angeles area for most of my life. Like the good native Southern Californian that I am, I almost always have had a car, sometimes a fast motorcycle or two, not to mention the old but reliable Ford F150 pickup truck for pulling the vacation trailer and/or the funky dune buggy.

My personal tastes run to Austin-Healey 3000s, Pontiac GTOs, custom-built Mustang GTs, Nissan 300Zs and the like; brutally fast and not necessarily fuel-efficient. But as I have gotten older, I have reduced my use of privately-owned self-propelled motor vehicles to zero.

I didn't get religion or anything, it's just that - using the bus and rail system almost exclusively - my insurance bill dropped to zero; I have no bank loan to pay off; I couldn't care less about how much premium costs for gas-guzzling SUVs; and I don't fume and fret in traffic, stuck on the five-way flyover anymore. My annual Metro pass costs about $550, and it's good 24/7. I do splurge on a cab on the rare occasions that I get stuck late in the evening far from home and the bus might be inconvenient, but that's not often.

I read in the papers that the average atmospheric temperature is going up inexorably as we continue to pour premium into our monster cars. Consider this: the California state budget calls for spending almost as much on <>prisons<> as we do for education, while leaving our infrastructure (read streets & highways) to crumble a little bit more with the passing of each and every two-ton Cadillac Escalade or Suburban.

So here's what the powers-that-be propose as a solution: shafting the little guy one more time. The Los Angeles Metro system board is proposing a fare increase of about 15%, to take effect at the beginning of the Metro's fiscal year in October, to be followed by a series of increases over the next two years, for a total fare increase of 72% over the next four years.

This in the face of angry calls to get the jammed freeways unstuck, not to mention global warming, or oil depletion concerns.

Mass transit is supposed to be part of a solution for global warming and urban crowding, but we are making it twice as expensive for someone like me who would prefer to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. (Not to mention those ten million Mexican illegals driving clapped-out Camaros because it is literally cheaper in LA to drive an uninsured, unsmogged beater than to take public transportation).

"No one wanted to see a fare increase and it's probably true that we'll probably will lose some riders," said [LA County] County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who co-authored the plan with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "But I think in the long run, we owe to this community a stable organization." - Long Beach Press-Telegram

What a crock. We don't need a "stable" organization; we need an affordable way to get to work. Neither Supervisor Yaroslavsky or Molina take the bus to work; they ride in private automobiles, and park their cars in city-owned municipal parking garages. Haven't these people heard that it's "Volume, volume, volume!"? Lower the damn fare, more people pile on the buses and trains, and the cost/mile goes down and everybody's happy.

The Metro is not a private enterprise; exactly like the freeways it is a tax-payer funded (public) utility, for crying out loud. Get the commuters off the jammed Harbor Freeway and to work in a reasonable amount of time on either the bus or the light rail. Maybe if there were MORE potholes commuters would get so fed up with the lousey paving that they'd be glad for a cushy, smooth ride on the bus or train. And, while they're at it, raise the damn gasoline taxes. Gas is too cheap by half and it's the gas taxes that pay for our highways and bus systems in the first place.

Hell, they do it in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, New York, and Paris and London and Berlin and Prague. Los Angeles should have a commuter system at least as good as Prague's, and as cheap.

No comments: