...THE BUS ISN'T COMING!
If you missed it (which is pretty easy to do, considering the fact that the powers that be don't actually want you to know about it until it is too late to do anything about it) there is to be a Lincoln City Council public hearing, one week from today: Monday, August 11th at 2:30 pm in the City Council Chambers, located at 555 South 10th Street.
The reason for this (semi-secret) Public Hearing is to discuss proposed revisions in the Mayor's budget plan for fiscal year 2008-2009, namely to eliminate "non peak" bus service on nearly all of its routes. The Mayor has decided that "non peak" hours are from 10am to 2pm.
I have decided that the mayor has his head up his ass.
If you wish to write the mayor or the city council (as I have) to express your displeasure with this proposal, PLEASE DO!
Contact information for the City Council can be found HERE.
Contact information for the Mayor can be found HERE.
What *I* wrote (to my City Councilman, each of the Council Members at Large as well as the Mayor), I offer here the version I wrote to the Mayor, for your consideration:
Dear Sir;Do I actually think it will accomplish much? Nope. That said, when the mobs come to burn down the politicians houses when they finally have enough of their shit and rise up to take back the power they have squandered and the opportunities to do what is truly best for the future of the community and get around to putting them up against the wall, I want to have a clean conscience, and don't want them to be able to say that they didn't have better ideas presented to them.
I am a Lincoln resident, living near 56th and Leighton Streets.
I am writing you to ask you to reconsider your proposed budget changes regarding the elimination of service on most bus routes between the hours of 10:00am - 2:00pm.
I voted for you. I voted for you because I was of the opinion that you were the better candidate. I am still deciding whether that trust was misplaced or not. By the looks of your proposal I was very very wrong.
Your proposal does not reflect the needs of the City of Lincoln, its residents or its future. It is a regressive policy that may make sense in the very short term, and may make even more sense politically, but it essentially cuts the throat of the bus service and demonstrates a serious lack of critical long-term thinking on the part of city planners.
The reason that those hours are "off peak" and why ridership is down during those hours is because those that would be using public transportation to get to or from work during those hours are not adequately served by the bus system as it is presently scheduled: If one would be leaving for work or returning from work between 10am and 2pm, the bus is/was not a viable option for them to make the other half of their journey to or from work, because the bus schedule is *already* limited and actively excludes their ridership.
The reason that it *appears* that the time between 10am and 2pm are "off peak" is that the bus service is not a 24 hour service. Unless you work pretty close to a 9am to 5pm shift, or are only using it to access government services, the bus does you no good as a form of reliable transportation.
I work for the State of Nebraska. I have several options for bus service near both home and work and would have done away with my car years ago if I would be able to have access to a bus service that was actually running when I needed transportation to and from work. As it is, I have the option of working a shift that starts hours before bus service starts, or working a shift that ends hours after service ends.
I am not alone in this.
The biggest reason that people in Lincoln generally have little or nothing to do with the bus system is that it doesn't run when they need it to. Before you further exacerbate that problem by reducing the number of hours that you offer service still further, please consider that the logical alternative would be to offer 24 hour service so that you could actually meet the needs of people that *would* be riding the bus during the hours that appear to be "off peak" presently.
If you want ridership to increase, streets to be less congested, parking to be more available, resources to be conserved, the needs of our poorest citizens met and pollution to decrease (which I believe sums up the reasons behind having a public transportation system in the first place) your best option for doing that is to provide a public transportation system that is both available and reliable, that people can count on to be there when they need it to be. At present, that is not what we have.
Remember: The people who really NEED a public transportation system are the ones that can't afford to pay the gas/insurance/maintenance costs for a vehicle. That demographic is probably the *least* likely to be working a 9am to 5pm job.
They are also *not* in the minority. For a politician, this should actually *mean* something.
The present hours that the bus is running reflects a time in Lincoln's past when stores and businesses were not open 24 hours a day, and where the vast majority of people actually *did* work a pretty cookie-cutter set of hours. That is no longer the case. Your planning needs to reflect that, rather than react to a clear misinterpretation of the data in such a way as to make it seem like the proposed course is anything other than utter madness.
To make the bus system available only to those that work bankers hours will ultimately cut the throat of the system entirely, because the majority of the people that work bankers hours can afford *not* to ride public transportation.
The result is that people end up with cars on the road that are poorly maintained, not fuel efficient, that are prone to breaking down and making traffic problems worse, which are grossly under-insured and which they really wouldn't need to be budgeting for if they had a reliable form of transportation available to them.
The proposed solution is like putting a tourniquet around a patient's neck. Yes, it will *technically* stop the bleeding, but you are going to kill the patient in the process - if that is the goal, just kill the patient and quit making making it look like you are trying to save them.
Please make the public transportation system a system that is actually functional and usable by the people that actually need it, as well as those that would prefer to use it over their own vehicles.
I understand that in the short term, a shift to a 24 hour bus service would *seem* to make very little sense and cost quite a bit of money to maintain. That said, you should be making your plans on what is best for the FUTURE of Lincoln... not what make sense in the short term. When you ask us to float bond issues to deal with a long term project, you *seem* to demonstrate an ability for thinking for the future.
This proposal is no different.
In order for this to be profitable in the long term - both economically and as a true resource for the people of Lincoln - you need to view this as a ten year investment in our future. People will need to know that the bus is there for them when they need it, and they will have to start taking baby steps to begin relying on it to start meeting their needs. It won't change things overnight... but it will change things - provided you have the vision to see what it means for our future.
If you want to kill off the bus service, just pull the plug entirely. Proceeding on the path you suggest will ensure that the bus service will always be a drain on our economy and a millstone around the government's neck. Don't operate in half measures here, because that doesn't help anyone: Either have a bus system that is worth a damn, or flush the whole thing down the toilet and quit pretending that we have a public transportation system that even tries to meet the needs of the city.
When we have a reliable 24 hour bus service I and many like me will gladly retire our cars permanently. If you want to make use of Lincoln's "hidden ridership" however, you need to make the service available when we need it.
Please represent me, and all the others who put you into office, and think of our future together.
...we will be watching and make note of how people proceed on this subject when election day comes.
For that day... remember well, politicos... we will only take so much of your shit.
Remember how it went down with the British...
...you never know what the tipping point will be