(As another non-driver, I can appreciate this post all the more. – promoted by Clark)
As a non-driver, public transportation is dear to my heart. And for years in the San Francisco Bay Area, and even for a brief stint in Detroit (where I commuted daily by bus from one of the outer suburbs into the city of Detroit), it enabled me to get around with little or no inconvenience. Consequently, about the only thing I really regret about my move to St. Louis’s West County is the lack of usable public transportation (i.e. sufficient buses, feeder routes, light rail, etc.) which has seriously curtailed my activities.
Imagine, then, my outrage when I read a recent letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, written by State Representative Cynthia Davis. In the letter, which is the second letter printed here, Davis explains that bus lines should not be expanded into St. Charles County because of the initial poor planning (whch she states she supported “because that is what our constituents wanted”) when the residential subdivisions were built:
Most of our people live in cul-de-sacs and don’t have sidewalks. To get to a bus stop, you have to be able to walk safely and not too far.
Instead of trying to act like a leader who can use numerous resources to creatively solve problems, she states categorically:
Buses work best in high-density areas with streets laid out on a grid. St. Charles County is distinctively different from St. Louis County.
(This statement does make me wonder why we don’t have decent public transportation in St. Louis County.) This line of reasoning is, of course, highly specious since I can point to numerous SF bay area communities that are laid out similarly and are still served by numerous feeder lines that converge on main roads and highways. Wouldn’t a real, far-sighted leader investigate and try to find out how places that have good public transportation solve these “problems”?
But that is the least of it. Davis would deny St. Charles citizens the initial infrastructure to what could become an increasingly important service in the future because:
Waiting at a bus stop in bad weather can be a bad experience if one has to sit out in the heat, rain or freezing temperatures to catch another bus. This is not a workable option for the elderly and those with fragile health conditions.
Davis’ solution is really easy though, especialy since she seems to think that the only potential users of a well-planned bus system would be elderly or otherwise fragile–just mooch off your relatives or neighbors–and you can, afterall, always depend on the kindness of strangers:
I believe we have enough kind-hearted friends and family members who will give a ride to their neighbors who don’t drive.
Hasn’t she heard of the energy crisis–which will only intensify problems for drivers–or even, in the short-term, events like the Highway 40/64 closure (which, given that there are really no viable public transportation solutions, will make my husband’s life torture soon). There is the envronmental damage done by emisions from proliferating cars and the financial burden of providing and maintaining the road infrasructure to support all this driving. Although I hate to put words in someone’s mouth, I do have to speculate, based Davis’ other positions (anti-reproductive choice, school prayer, etc.), that she is probably a global-warming denier who believes that our energy problems will be solved by opening up the Alaska oil-fields.
Does it seem to anyone else out there that we need leaders who can figure out how to extend public transportation so that we are ready for the time when individually operated cars may no longer be feasible? And that we really need to get rid of short-sighted, parochial types like Davis in goverment? Extending some bus lines is just the very beginning–if Davis were a real representative of the needs of her constituents, she would be planning how to insure that public transportation into her area could be enhanced with light rail lines, etc.
Of course, if St. Charles really, truly doesn’t want bus service, the bus service in West Count could certainly stand to be beefed up.