Tag Archives: Couldn’t have said it better

The biggest transportation subsidy

A tidbit from an interesting (read: transit-friendly) article in Slate:

You think the government is wasting a few billion a year on mass-transit subsidies. But what about the huge subsidies for cars and trucks?


What hasn’t been acknowledged is that the automobile is supported by a government subsidy that dwarfs anything provided to mass transit. How big is the subsidy? By my (admittedly extremely crude) calculations, it could total nearly $100 billion per year.

Can I get an amen?

There’s more to it, of course–but that’s what the link is for.

Wasteful subsidy


(Much) more of the same

Thanks mostly to high gas prices, public transportation ridership has been growing steadily of late–in Seattle and across the country…even in L.A.. But, according to this Ryan Avent piece in Grist, that hasn’t changed our approach to transportation.

Americans, it seems, are not constitutionally opposed to mass transit. An American public enthralled by automobiles has seen the enemy and begun to look for solutions — to congestion and fuel prices, and to climate change. But those looking have discovered that a half-century of neglect has made travel by transit a challenge.

Seeking options, the nation has found them wanting. The ceaseless climb of oil prices, the growing financial toll of congestion, and the looming cataclysm of global climate change have not yet shaken the men and women entrusted with the care of our infrastructure to act — or moved politicians, the press, and the public to demand action. Why can we not bring ourselves to speak of the need for better transit?

That’s what I’d like to know. In all the hype over the presidential election (yes, I’ve been caught up, too)–with all the talk about global warming and gas taxes and green jobs and “clean” coal, I have yet to hear a candidate mention public transportation as part of the solution. Here in Washington, we’re still charging car-sharing members a tourist tax (in case you didn’t know, HB 2880 failed), and a major gubernatorial candidate still believes that the answer to climate change is to expand our freeways. Avent has some thoughts about why.

So why are greens and political leaders reluctant to embrace transit as an energy and climate fix? Perception may be a problem. Transit systems are widely seen as dirty, slow, unreliable, and inconvenient relative to automobiles. Romm suggested to me that transit is seen as “not sexy.” When folks imagine a greener future, visions of electric cars and solar panels abound. No one thinks of a humble subway car rumbling through dark, century-old tracks beneath Manhattan.

Maybe I’m the only one, but I see cars as dirty, slow (Been near 520 lately?), and unreliable. And though I’d love to see cleaner energy solutions in the very near future, I’d like to see an equal focus on figuring out the best ways to move more than one person at a time. Because here’s the thing: Even the cleanest, most efficient car can’t relieve congestion–or control sprawl–or encourage walking–or promote community. A good transit system can.

I’m not sure what ridership numbers we’ll have to reach before transit moves to the forefront of our collective consciousness. But, with the help of $4+ per gallon gas, here’s hoping we get there soon.

A world away, yet close to home

Sorry for the lack of posts of late. Bus Nerd and I spent the early part of this week in Selma, Alabama, visiting some of his relatives. On the long journey to Selma, we stopped in Montgomery, a city made famous by one very historic bus ride. (Yes, I will take any opportunity to mention my shero.)

While I’m on the subject…

My new favorite bus stop:

Rosa Parks bus stop
Rosa Parks bus stop
“The way we live now will affect the state of the world in the future.” -Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks bus stop
“This world has taught me that we must do what is right.”
Rosa Parks bus stop
Rosa Parks bus stop

If you’re interested in checking it out for yourself, it’s the northbound 7/39/48 stop on the east side of Rainier, just north of Alaska.

…and my favorite bus poem:

Rosa Parks Dream


Rosa Parks Dream

Young man one color,
elder woman yet another

which is which no fuss
All one on the packed bus

His seat offered, happily declined
-she sits all day…..but still….how kind!

Unnoticed words about Rosa printed above
Off the bus I wept, in joy and love

Thank you again Rosa

– Markus Wells

I would love this poem even if it wasn’t about Mrs. Parks. In just a few words, the author manages to capture what I love so much about the ride:

“Which is which no fuss/All one on the packed bus.”


But don’t take it from me, part II

I’m not the only one who takes bus vacations.

From today’s Seattle Times:

Riding Metro’s Route 255 from Kirkland, I’d begun my “travel-by-bus vacation,” an experiment inspired by Rick Steves, Edmonds’ budget-travel guru, whose guidebooks extol using public transportation in European cities to save money, see the sights and meet locals along the way. It works there; it could work here.

After one trip, I was hooked. The journeys were as interesting as the destinations. Routes wound through neighborhoods I’d have never found on my own. It was continuous sightseeing.

Even paying full adult fare, the trips were incredibly cheap. I paid more for a double-tall latte at Snoqualmie Falls than I did for the round-trip fare to get there from my hometown of Kirkland. And not a single stop for $3.75-a-gallon gas.

This writer’s local travels included: Ballard (one of this bus chick’s favorite places to visit), Snoqualmie Falls (I told you!), and Vashon Island (a bus + ferry excursion). When she’s ready to move to Level II, we’ll hip her to Hike Metro.

Thanks for the link, Matt.

But don’t take it from me…

Detroit bloggers love buses, too.

From O Street on The Detroit Free Press site:

I met him in grade school, a big yellow something, and we’ve been involved with each other in some variation — public transportation, Greyhound, shuttle — ever since.

It’s an on-again, off-again relationship, depending on the circumstances of my chaotic life.


Oneita the Blogger loves to sit in the back of the bus and make observations. There is much to discover on the stress-free trips, many conversations to listen in on and to initiate. Great blogging material. I get lost in my reading and in my thoughts.

And I save money.

Now that gas is sticking out its tongue saying na-na-na-na-naaaa, I’ve decided to strike up an acquaintance again: I’m getting a bus pass.

Gas for my car for one week at $4 a gallon is $72. (It was $20 a week when I moved here.)

A DDOT bus pass for the month is $47.


I’ve cut back on trips, slowed way down and I’m shopping closer to home. I get rides with friends. My discretionary spending is more discreet. All that is good, but I need to make a change I can really measure. Not driving is one way to keep more money in my pocket.

Maybe I’ll get a bike before the summer is over.

The next time we’re in the D, I’m looking this woman up.

Earth Day is still a great day to be a bus chick

One of the many reasons I ride:

A view of Tahoma, from a 39 stop in Seward Park

Still more reasons, from the American Public Transportation Association:

An individual switching to public transit can reduce his or her daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds; that’s more than 4,800 pounds in a year, a figure that is more than the combined carbon emissions reduction that comes from weathering your home and using energy efficient appliances and environmentally-friendly light bulbs.

If just one commuter of a household switches from driving to using public transportation, the household’s carbon footprint can be reduced by 10 percent. If a household gives up its second car altogether, a household can reduce carbon emissions up to 30 percent.

In case the future of the planet isn’t enough incentive: This Earth Day, lucky transit riders in DC were given free chocolate as a reward for their efforts. (Hey, Metro: Any chance this might happen in Seattle next year?)

If you prefer a little peace on earth with your carbon reduction (and chocolate!), check out this CSM editorial (thanks for the link, Pam!) about how the bus brings out our gentler side. I can’t say that all the bus rides I’ve taken have been so kind and gentle, but I definitely agree with the premise.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

It doesn’t take a fancy British guy…

to convince me that men who conserve–both the earth’s resources and their own money–are sexy. But maybe some of the rest of you could use a nudge.

From the World Carfree Network‘s e-newsletter:

“I was asked at a lecture by a young woman about what she could do and I told her stop admiring young men in Ferraris. What I was saying is you have got to admire people who are conserving energy and not those willfully using it.”

-Sir David King, UK’s chief scientific advisor, on how the world would
be a greener place if only women didn’t find men in exotic cars so

Score one for the bus nerds.

A CARtoon by Andy Singer

And speaking of the 48…

From Auryn on Capitol Hill, a Craigslist “missed connection” to Seattle’s longest (and latest) bus route:

Dear Bus Route 48:

Let me preface this by saying that I love you. You know exactly what I need. When I lived in Greenlake and had those random appointments in the Central District, you were my savior. And you go right by Ezell’s Chicken! Score!

Remember that one time I was in Greenwood? I forget why I was there, but my friends called me to hang out with them at Teddy’s off Roosevelt. At first I thought “how the hell will I get there?” Then I remembered you. Because of you, I was able to hang out with my friends and get wasted.

Oh God, let’s not forget when I had to go to Golden Gardens for a volunteer event. You were spot on that day. Just what I needed.


Bus 48, you’re everything I need. You’re awesome in almost every way. You go everywhere! You connect people of varying economic and social backgrounds too! How noble! I really, really love you, please know this…

but, [expletive] can you please be on time? like ever?…


Read the rest here.

A lot like that Dear John letter last April, no? The route gets around.