Transit Sucks

Posted by Fred Jandt
Mass Transit magazine editor

I spent the last week in New York City attending the U.S. High Speed Rail Association’s conference. And from what I heard there — or more importantly, what I didn’t — I have to say that our transit system sucks.

It does. Every aspect of our transit system is woefully outdated, overtaxed and in danger of imminent collapse. Just check out New York City. Its roads are choked with cars — and that’s just the parked ones. Its transit system is standing room only at the best of times.

And don’t even get me started on our airlines. Those following me on Twitter heard my cry yesterday after being stuck in a plane on the tarmac in Chicago for an hour and a half, just to spend 15 minutes in the air when we actually got in the air.

The pilot came on the intercom shortly after we got underway yesterday and apologized for the “debacle” at O’Hare.

Our transportation network is a debacle all right and there really is only one person to blame.

Me. Well, and You. I guess “Us” would be a better description.

I’ve heard a lot — too much, really — about the train that may or may not come to Wisconsin. I’ve seen the numbers from both sides. I’ve heard the spin from both sides.

And you know what? They are all wrong.

This has become an either/or thing and it’s not. It’s not about being conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. It’s about doing what’s right for our nation.

And that means supporting all aspects of transit — roads, transit and ports. We need to become a nation where we move everything efficiently — people and goods.

So why are we so vehemently against transit? I can’t figure that one out. I heard recently one argument that “They” want people to give up their cars in favor of transit. They want transit to be the only choice.

Isn’t that what I have now with my car?

When I got home yesterday, my car had a hard time starting at the airport. A silent prayer and a couple pumps of gas got it started, but what if it hadn’t? It not starting would have incurred me an immense expense in time and money.

That car is my only choice. I don’t have transit to fall back on.

We shouldn’t be for transit until we’re against it as the elected officials in Wisconsin seem to be. And we should be making wiser decisions with our money like spending billions to make new warships while waging a war in a land-locked country.

In the end, we need to get together — road builders, steel companies, concrete companies, transit builders, designers, architects, elected officials, everyone — and sort this mess out.

It can’t be an either/or situation. It needs to be a plan to keep us working as a nation for now and the future.

Otherwise it will remain more of the same. And right now transit sucks.

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