Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Am I responsible for public transit?

The Chicago Transportation Authority, which provides bus, subway and elevated train service to the city of Chicago, has been having no end of difficulties in the recent past. Between the federal government, state government, city government and fare revenue, they just don't have adequate funding to operate at acceptable levels. As a result, in the past several months, CTA riders have been experiencing slower trains, fewer buses, increasing commute times and generally shittier service. November 4th is the date for more bus routes to be eliminated at the same time that fare prices will increase. Chicago public transportation sucks and is we're going to be paying even more for it to suck even worse if the government can't prioritize the only transportation that thousands of Chicagoans use to get to work and live their lives.

I now live with a man who has a car and I've been driving way more than I ever expected. Especially after seeing An Inconvenient Truth, I'm very uncomfortable with how much my driving has increased as the CTA has become worse. I've become so frustrated with getting off work at 1:00 a.m. and having my commute time go from 45 minutes, to 60 minutes, to 80 minutes, that I've become a consistent weekend driver. I'm realizing that because I now drive to work so much, plus I'm cutting back on my shifts, plus I now walk to the gym (I used to ride to the gym as much as I rode to work), I really don't use my monthly CTA pass enough to justify the $75 (soon to be $84 or whatever) a month price I'm paying.

I'm ready to cancel it and just pay out of pocket for the four or five times I make a round-trip each week. And I'm wondering: is it possible that if enough people like me stop supporting the CTA (I've been overpaying for how often I ride), it could just go out of business? I'm thinking that those of us with alternate means of transportation might mostly quit using the CTA, resulting in more financial difficulties, resulting in reduced service and more expensive fare prices, causing more of us to quit using the CTA, etc.

Could the CTA eventually find itself dependent on the poorest of the working poor who have no choice at all but to use buses and trains, at which point the CTA will be unable to sustain service and just go out of business? Should that motivate people like me to keep paying $75 or more a month for service we're not getting since it's important to have good public transportation? Or shall I be Republican about this?

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