Bring Back the Buses

For Chrissakes... Milwaukee's got public transit. (Omaha, too.)

 

Lisa, age 51, receptionist

I don't own a car. I've been lucky because I've been able to get rides most of the time to get around during the strike. But I feel uncomfortable asking people. I'm afraid they'll get tired of giving me rides. So, one day I walked a trip that had taken about 22 minutes by bus. It took one hour and 21 minutes on foot and I couldn't read the newspaper or set my stuff down in my lap like when I ride the bus. I've cut out some activities I would have done if the buses were running, because finding rides would have been impossible in many cases.

 

Netta, age 48, shelter worker

I don't know if any of you parents out there have teenage kids that ride the bus, but if you do, you should give Pawlenty a talkin' to about how hard it is to get your kids back and forth to jobs, practice, and school! I can't stand it! Pawlenty is just a stinker! I say we drop our kids off at the Capitol and let them hang out there! A few afternoons of that should send him a message real clear. I am sick of spending my money in this town and having to put up with this crap! I pay for that bus system, my kids use it, my friends' kids use it, and we are not going to take this crap!

 

Mark, age 47, executive assistant

Last night, while giving a weekly guitar lesson to a friend and her nine-year-old daughter, the younger of the two was telling us a story. And even though it had nothing to do with the bus strike, she established the story's point in time by saying, "This happened back when there used to be buses."

 

Ann, age 29, research engineer

I choose to ride the bus. My husband and I own one car, and specifically chose our apartment upon moving to the Twin Cities from Boston nearly three years ago because we both could ride the bus to work. I ride Metro Transit from downtown Minneapolis to the 3M Center where I am a senior research engineer, and my husband rides Southwest Metro Transit to Eden Prairie where he is a senior research scientist. Thankfully, both transit systems are not on strike. Currently, I am alternating riding my bicycle to work (17 miles one way and quite cold on a bike at 6:00 a.m.) with driving, particularly so that my husband may attend doctor's appointments, off-site meetings, etc. We are committed to mass transit because we believe it is critical for any city that wishes to be economically healthy and culturally interesting.

 

Keith, age 40, sales analyst

I live in East St. Paul near Lake Phalen and I work in downtown Minneapolis. If I don't get a ride to and from work with a colleague or friend, I have to walk. It takes me nearly 3 1/2 hours. This takes away from research and writing time since I'm trying to finish my thesis. Also, with no shower facilities at work, biking to and from my job isn't an option. I'm also losing the reading/studying time that I had on the bus. Please, somebody settle the strike soon!

 

Roberta, age and occupation unknown

My friend, Terry, has epilepsy and therefore doesn't drive. Since the bus strike, he has to walk to work and back. Terry lives on St. Paul's west side and works at the St. Paul Post Office. He begins work at 6:00 a.m. so must start walking in the dark, at 5:00 a.m. Let's pay these bus drivers and let our working men and women get a ride to work!

 

Tom, age 31, data entry operator

My quadriceps have accelerated their growth from the usual end-of-winter atrophy to what one could call mid-spring normality, as I've been forced to bicycle from our Whittier apartment to my data entry job at the U of M. I've also been saving the money from each paycheck that usually goes toward a monthly bus pass. My brother, John Paul, suggested that everyone should send their pass money directly to the transit workers' strike fund, a good and noble idea; but my 35 dollars is going directly into a future baby's diaper fund, as the wife is 30 weeks pregnant. The strike has stirred a good bit of resentment in me--and it's also helped to give me a clearer picture of my society; I'm not optimistic.

 

Cody, age 27, web guy

I'm lucky. Although my wife needs our only car to commute to Northfield, my sister and I have been able to carpool to work. She's got a car and I've got free parking. With a little extra planning for the evenings and weekends, our routines have been largely unaffected. I like riding the bus. It allows me to commute stress-free, and provides me with an hour or so a day to read, which I've sorely missed during the strike. I also like the striking workers. I think it's quite likely that they're fighting a losing battle, but I applaud their stand. The most frustrating thing about the strike is that it's saved me time and money. Between us, my sister and I had been paying about $10 a day to ride the bus. Even considering the costs of owning and insuring her car, it's far cheaper for us to drive than to take the bus. And, even when traffic's really bad, I generally get home 10 to 15 minutes sooner than I would on the bus. This is a statement that some might seize upon as an epitaph for mass transit in the metro. I hope that instead it can be an indication of how broken our transit system is. Transit is good for the metro. It is a vital service for our elderly, disabled, and lower-income citizens; it cuts down on traffic and pollution, and if I am any indication, it reduces road rage and increases literacy. State and local leaders ought to recognize the benefits of transit and fund it accordingly. Pawlenty is a fink.

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