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Monday, May 21, 2012

The People vs. Public Transportation

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2012 at 9:05 AM

Page 2 of 3

Inner city blacks, whites, Hispanics, etc. keep metro alive in St. Louis. We are grateful for the system but it often appears that Metro is not grateful for our patronage. Bus routes from the most needy communities are often cut. Over the years bus fare has risen without true concern for the community. Public transportation legislation and modifications have been passed with little regard for the actual bus riders. Black people ride the bus but black people don't vote in primary elections, so when a chance to fix the system touches the ballot nothing happens.

North County has had a booming increase in its population within the last decade. The need for consistent bus routes to jobs outside of the North County community has drastically increased. If you live in North County and rely on Metro to get you to work then surely you can relate to this.

My parents live off of Chambers Road, and I can testify to you that it was hell catching the bus from the North Co. Most of the jobs I held as a teen were in West County via Chesterfield Mall or the West County Mall. I can vividly remember riding the bus and transit for at least two hours every day going to work. If I took the same exact route on my way home then add another two hours to my travel time. Certain portions of North County are like "No Man's Island" in terms of quality bus service. I've walked miles in the name of getting to the MetroLink while going to work. There is always some form of controversy surrounding the Metro's budget and expansion issues.

People are depending on these services to help keep the economy of St. Louis vibrant. True to our nature as a segregated city, a few people have made this a racial issue more so than an economic issue.Rumor has it West County Mall rejected Metro servicing the Mall until the establishment fell into financial trouble. All of a sudden bus routes from the St. Louis City to West County became plentiful. In other words: Get those young, ignorant inner city kids that ride the bus out here so they can spend some money. We also need people willing to work for minimum wage in our food court so make it happen.Once again this is only a rumor passed down to me from a old grumpy bus driver but who knows he might be right. I've heard the stories similar to this one from other drivers about different scenarios as well.

Close to 40,000 residents of our region use public transportation to travel to work. That's in addition to college students, the elderly, disabled citizens alongside their families and caretakers, all of whom depend on Metro in their day-to-day life. In 2008 through 2009 Metro, facing drastic budget shortages, cut over 2,300 of its 9,000 buses and trains. Businesses suffered and the local economy felt the burn. So service was partially restored, but not to its full glory. All true bus riders know the city's bus lines have never fully recovered from this blow.

Since the '60s, minority communities have had an estranged relationship with public transportation. The civil rights movement was actually spearheaded on the heels of fighting for public transportation equality. Rosa Parks heroically sat on the back of the bus and refused to give up her seat. This is a simple yet interesting social dilemma concerning public transportation that changed the world. Most people don't realize most of this story was fabricated. We have been taught to believe she boarded the bus tired and broken down. We've been taught to view her as a defenseless woman the community jumped to rescue. The truth is she played bigger role in this story than we give her credit for. Everything about Mrs. Parks refusing to give her up seat was pre-planned and aligned with a greater agenda. The plan was to boycott the bus system and force them to show compassion to the minority passengers. Rosa Parks and her cronies organized every part of the plan.

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