Recent actions by SORTA’s board and management leaves us confused as to the mission of Southwest Ohio’s Regional Transit Authority.
For years we’ve been acting under the assumption that SORTA is concerned with intra-regional travel of the area’s residents. And more specifically, with daily travel service – the kind of service people who depend on buses for their daily transportation needs count on. Trips to work, shopping, school.
COAST believes in this mission. SORTA has a rightful place in the world, providing daily intra-regional transit service.
And COAST believes that SORTA must charge for this service. Currently the cheapest fare is $1.75 each way. Is that too high, too low? It’s hard to say. But we do note that at $3.50 a day, in a 20 work-day month, that’s $70 a month to ride the bus to work.
If a Mt. Washington resident works downtown, could that person drive for less than $70 per month? Factor in the convenience of taking 20-30 minutes off your commute each way by driving and that $70 in bus fare doesn’t seem like such a deal anymore does it?
Now, lets look at the rider who doesn’t have the luxury of choosing between driving herself and taking the bus. A single mom with no car. She depends on the bus not only for her commute to work, but also for her shopping trips. $1.75 each way adds up to quite a bit of cheese for our single mom. Don’t forget, she needs to take the kids with her on the shopping trips so they can try on the clothes she works so hard to buy.
Now this hard working mom is struggling to get by and make a life for herself and her children. In many ways Metro helps allow our single mother to enjoy the full freedom of America. With public transportation her choices of where to live, work and play are all greatly expanded. Our single mother is able to more fully enjoy the freedoms more affluent people take for granted.
Why do we make this point? To demonstrate the value and importance of public transportation, and how seriously we take it.
When we see our public transportation dollars taken from the noble use of helping our less fortunate neighbors to enjoy the full breadth of America’s freedom and redirected to pay for a bunch of yuppies’ latest plaything, we get angry. Not because we don’t want yuppies to have shiny toys. Because we understand that the money to buy that toy has to come from somewhere. And when it is transportation dollars specifically, that somewhere comes from all the single mothers who depend on the bus to get them where they need to go. If the fare goes up, the middle class guy can just start driving his car to work and not miss a beat, but the single mother won’t have that choice. She’ll have to cut into her already tight budget so she can get to work. She’ll have to limit her choices on where to live work and play. All so a handful of yuppies can get their shiny new toy.
On the issue of the streetcar, ultimately, we know we’ll be proven right. But it isn’t a matter of being proven right. Between now and the time that it is proven that the streetcar was a horrific boondoggle, the fares will be raised and the single mothers of Southwest Ohio will lose some of their freedom so that yuppies could learn the hard way that the streetcar was a bad idea.
We at COAST have long been attacked as being against the little guy – we’re not sure how or why our detractors think that of us – but ask yourself when it comes to the streetcar, who’s against the little guy? COAST, seeking to save the city and SORTA millions of dollars so they can focus on their core competencies? Or the selfish yuppies demanding single mothers pay higher bus fares and have their freedom gnawed away so the yuppies can have a streetcar?