Friday, April 02, 2021

A Better Idea


Pete Buttigieg is entitled to travel to work any way he wishes- by bicycle, bike (motorcycle, if he has a license), the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority, by chauffered limousine (the stadard), as a pedestrian or driver. He can even hitchike, if it's legal.

But for, as far as we know, a one-time trip, Secretary Buttigieg got an awful lot of positive response on Twitter. The plaudits included 

  • - I really love this guy. He talks the talk, and bikes to work.
  • - Pete is the man!!
  • - Our prime minister (Netherlands) always takes the bike to work. Even when he had to hand over our administration's resignation to the king, he went to see our king... by bike
  • -This is what you do when you're the real deal and not some pretender.

By someone I hope is an impersonator, this by an actual legitimate, mainstream journalist is my favorite:: "He wins the news cycle."

Sure, he does, if the news cycle is fifteen (15) minutes on Twitter because, as you know, we all have a claim on fifteen minutes of fame.

I'm going to assume with this tweeter that, notwithstanding the security detail following him to work, this is not mere "greenwashing" nor virtue signaling. Nonetheless, if the transportation secretary is truly interested in setting an example or providing a valuable signal, he must consider, as The New York Times reported in December

In Boston, transit officials warned of ending weekend service on the commuter rail and shutting down the city’s ferries. In Washington, weekend and late-night metro service would be eliminated and 19 of the system’s 91 stations would close. In Atlanta, 70 of the city’s 110 bus routes have already been suspended, a move that could become permanent.

And in New York City, home to the largest mass transportation system in North America, transit officials have unveiled a plan that could slash subway service by 40 percent and cut commuter rail service in half.

Across the United States, public transportation systems are confronting an extraordinary financial crisis set off by the pandemic, which has starved transit agencies of huge amounts of revenue and threatens to cripple service for years.

The profound cuts agencies are contemplating could hobble the recoveries of major cities from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco, where reliable transit is a lifeblood of the local economies.

There is a renewed interest in Washington in funding public transit because we have a new President and a Congress controlled (more or less) by the Democratic Party, which recognize that minorities and the poor would be the biggest losers if transportation agencies financially crumble. 

Massive subsidization would help minority and low-income riders; single parents transporting their children; the handicapped; travelers in rain, snow, extreme cold or heat;; men or women carrying several items;  the elderly aside from the most physically fit; other individuals not physically fit or unable to ride on, or maintain, a bicycle..That is: most of us.

They are among the people without the luxury of being able to ride a bicycle more than occasionally.  They- and others more privileged- can be encouraged to ride on public transit conveyances whenever possible.   Pete Buttigieg is under no obligation to be a transit role model. However, if he chooses to do so one day, it probably would cost him less than $10- and he probably could submit a voucher for reimbursement.


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