Sunday, January 25, 2015

Shadow Transit -- or Superior Transit?

This is the next step in Salem -- instead of fighting against Uber and similar alternatives to drive alone, we must work to integrate such alternative transit models into the public transit system so that we can have a complete, safe, insured transit system that lets everyone in Salem - including the weekend worker or church goer, and the late shift caregiver -- participate fully in social, civic, and economic life, even if they don't own or have access to a car. 

 With car ownership cost exceeding $8000 per year -- and with the huge poverty tax for low end, low reliability cars imposed on Salem's most vulnerable people -- there is a huge pool of dollars that could be saved and returned to the community by providing a safe, 7 Day, 16 hours daily mobility system at affordable prices.

What we need is to get every group and entity connected with transportation in Salem -- Cherriots, Salem, Keizer, NEDCO, SK Schools, and the local anti poverty social services sector, and major employers, such as the Salem Parking Hospital and the State -- to stop thinking of transportation as consisting of only two or three flavors: The privately owned automobile or the fixed route public transit bus or paratransit for those eligible. 

What we need to realize is that we've built an incomplete, discriminatory mobility system that takes money from everyone but only provides much service to those wealthy and healthy enough to be able to afford the price of participation, an expensive automobile. Everyone else is left to shift for themselves -- starting with a starved transit system burdened by having the sole legal obligation to provide mobility for the disabled, an obligation that should be shared with all road users, not just the bus system.

Cherriots is showing some encouraging signs of life with its tiny tiptoe into more flexible transit (albeit in West Salem, a sprawled mess nearly perfectly designed to make transit ineffective) and its discussion of seeking funding to restore weekend service. Time to build on that idea, and to keep building until car ownership is a real choice, not an essential of life.

New York's Shadow Transit | The New Yorker

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

No comments: