Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cherriots, Get Your Head Out: Stop the Idling!!

One of the problems with not being a knee-jerk anti-governmental type is the pain you regularly have to suffer when government service agencies, as matters of policy, do stupid and destructive things. Things that make people dislike them, waste money, and provide no positive benefit whatsoever. Things that are head-slappingly stupid, that nobody working for the agency would ever do if they had to pay for the behavior out of their own pockets, and yet they don't speak up at work and get things changed. Or the management is so brain-dead that workers long ago quit trying to save them from themselves.

Salem suffers from a fair amount of this. Like Cherriots letting all those huge buses idle at the Transit Center in between their rare forays out onto the streets (with most runs operating at 1/2 hour or even 1 hour headways, the buses are idle a staggering amount of time each day). Just today, I sat and counted more than six buses that were idling more than 15 minutes, filling the Valley with toxic pollutants and wasting gallons and gallons of $5 diesel. This has been going on since, well, forever. Our "cold" weather isn't all that cold, and if we did have cold start problems, it would be trivially easy to install power hookups for the buses at the Transit Center to allow the engines to stay warm while turned off.

In fact, isn't that a much better use of $4.75M bucks that Salem is planning on blowing as a monument to futility at the airport?

Now "punishing" Cherriots by voting against the upcoming bond isn't going to work---all that would accomplish is to further degrade the system and cost us Saturday service (on top of the already no Sunday service problem).

What has to happen is for people who
  1. breathe, or
  2. pay rent, or
  3. pay property taxes, or
  4. work, or
  5. live in the Cherriots service area to
call them or send them an e-mail and say STOP IDLING.

If you know any Cherriots drivers, ask them to ask the union to get involved -- if the union realizes that the idling is costing their members their jobs (because management is wasting the money that could be putting drivers (and passengers) on the street), they could really help get this fixed.

Diesel idling is a pointless, wasteful, expensive, dirty habit.

Now double that cost estimate, because diesel is now closer to $5/gallon, not $2.60