I once posted about the addition of free wireless Internet access to express buses from New Tampa. It got shot down pretty quickly as a service largely unneeded by the “underprivileged.” At yesterday’s town hall meeting with the president, someone raised the question about why the highway bill earmarks money for projects that aren’t in our local budget yet. Hence this money sits there, unable to be used until we decide to build a light-rail system. The response?
I’m just not one of these guys — if there’s no hope, I got to let you know, brother. There ain’t no hope. (Laughter and applause.) They’re not going to — they’re not going to revisit the highway bill.
I think all of this attitude of how to spend money on mass transit stems from an error in perception. To be clear, I respect the person who shot down my previous post. I think she’s intelligent and has good and valuable opinions. I really try not to take it personally when people characterize my fellow riders as “underprivileged” or when a pro-transit article calls us the working poor. We’re certainly not over-privileged by any stretch of the imagination, but some of us wear ties to work; we carry briefcases, or laptops. We value getting to work on time, comfortably, without adding to or having to fight with the mob of cars trying to find the fastest way out of downtown Tampa from 4:30 to 6 pm every day.
But who can blame any individual when highway expansion is called an investment in infrastructure, but mass transit is given the unfortunate moniker of subsidy?
Why am I complaining though? The whole point of a blog is to influence public opinion. Honestly, if you’ve never ridden a bus, you don’t have a good idea of who rides them, why they ride, and what areas they see for improvement. Sounds like the makings of some real in-depth amateur journalism if you ask me.