Why Aren't Buses Free?

As I sat on a bus today, inching along in traffic, it became clear to me that all buses should be free. People who ride buses are providing a public service. To charge money to ride the bus is insane. Bus riders are reducing traffic congestion for the one-person-per-car overload on our streets and freeways. Bus riders are reducing pollution. Bus riders are using considerably less gas, and many buses are run on electricity, not Middle Eastern oil. According to statistics, three percent of the population rides buses. A way to increase the number would be to make buses free.

We should add a tax to auto licensing fees, car sales taxes, etc. to subsidize the bus systems. If cars insist on clogging the roads to a point where the traffic is impenetrable, the sky is hazy, the gas is priced sky-high, and we need to wage war to satiate our endless gas needs, then car drivers need to be willing to pay anyone willing to ride a bus. If people expect to continue to clog streets and guzzle gas, sitting in their cars alone, they are going to need to convince someone else to not drive, to make room for their SUV. We cannot sustain a land of one car per American. That is insanity. It is time to make the people driving cars pay outright for the traffic-reducing, pollution-reducing, gas-conserving buses, not the bus riders.

After I wrote the above I saw a local news story in Seattle. It was mid-October 2003, and there was a proposal to up the requirement from two people to three people for carpool lane usage on Seattle's clogged freeways. People did not like that, and instead proposed express lanes be built for the rich, basically. The idea is to build more express lanes, but to charge toll fees to use the new express lanes. I am sure people in Bellevue would fund an express lane on 520 that kept the poor out of their way on the highway in a second, even while their libraries were shut due to lack of funding. Instead of subsidizing and improving mass transit in Seattle, or learning how to carpool, people are now proposing more highway construction and elite, private roads for those who can afford them? Wow.


Kirsten Anderberg. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint/publish, please contact Kirsten at kirstena@resist.ca .

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