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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 3 of 3

The events that took place during and after the day she refused to give up her seat played a role in bringing about an eventual change that was drastically needed. The public transportation systems realized how valid a role the people played in maintaining their survival, and eventually the law was changed. The times have changed but we still live in the same world. In St. Louis the public transportation system will need to see action in order for them to feel the wrath of its customers. I spent a bit of time working for Russ Carnahan as a canvasser, because I believed in his desire to fix the problems our public transportation system is facing. The following pretty much explains the unsung saga of public transportation in our town from a political science standpoint.

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), working with Ohio Republican Steve LaTourette, has introduced a bill that would help put more buses on the streets. While federal funds are often restricted to capital projects, Carnahan's bill would allow transit agencies, during times of crisis, to use some of that money for operating expenses, like paying bus drivers.

The bill would allow local agencies to expand service, or at least minimize cuts, at a time when more and more people are coming to depend on transit. And it would not increase federal expenditures in the process.

"Folks across the country rely on public transit to get to work and businesses rely on those services to get their employees to them," said Carnahan. "But we're forcing transit agencies to lay off workers even when funds are available.

Similar bills have been introduced since the bottom dropped out of the economy in 2008, but this time around the proposal appears to have bipartisan support. The Local Flexibility for Transit Assistance Act has 89 sponsors from both political parties, and Carnahan expects more to join shortly. After all, the bill decentralizes decision-making and doesn't cost anything - popular themes among Republicans.

St. Louis is a city that is governed by red lining and political misunderstandings. The quality of public transportation is one of those issues that affects us all whether we know it or not. If George on the North side can't make it to Chesterfield to work his station at the all you can eat restaurant, someone's family diner has been cancelled. If teenagers can't catch The MetroLink to the movies this weekend, then the theatres eventually close. This is one of those issues where we can't afford to not care about each other. We can no longer afford to be immature and uneducated about issues such as this on a local level. We as voters must educate ourselves and take action to preserve the quality of life we have afforded ourselves. In any modern functioning society people need access to employment. They also need a means to travel to their place of employment. Recreational hobbies such as shopping, weekend trips to the Art Museum, History Museum, and St. Louis Zoo also help better the quality of life we enjoy as St. Louisans. These are a few of the things that help us maintain a social identity as a growing city. Our downtown cannot currently handle a lack of visitors from the metro area. I strongly advocate public transportation reform.

I would also suggest that Metro considered being more cautious about its treatment of potential voters. A day will come when their future is in our hands, and I would like to think that our support would help improve the public transportation system. We all need each other and the day St. Louis realizes this we will return to our days of glory. This is one of the many lessons I've learned from my years as customer of our town's public transportation system.

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