Monday, November 10, 2008

Want to see a furious girl?

Michael Dresser at The Baltimore Sun writes that last Thursday’s MTA hearing about the Red Line was practically set up to fail the city’s citizens. For starters, the building was not handicap accessible:

There, outside the rear door of the Lithuanian Hall in West Baltimore, sat Bob Reuter in his wheelchair. Ahead of him was a concrete lip of as much as 4 inches, with a rickety piece of plywood impersonating an actual accommodation for the disabled. Beyond lay a ramp so steep Reuter compared it to a ski slope - and not one at the beginner level.

Here you go, you guys! We found this scrap board on a house down the street.* Surely it’s sufficient for your needs! Never mind, apparently, that MTA is a critical service for people who don’t drive. When I still rode MTA on a daily basis (as the 8, not the 991 commuter bus) I dreaded the snow. The sidewalks were rarely shoveled on my walk to the bus—which isn’t MTA’s problem until I reach the stop—and I spent one winter dragging luggage across a four foot icy snow bank (the some things a girl will do to see a Lifetime reunion show). I passed a nursing home to get there. I think the employees and resident were provided with ample entertainment watching me haul my goods across the snow, but the people who struggled to get around the sidewalks in their wheel chairs did not. The ice walk continued to the stop, where I perched above the road, and others did the same. And when my bus finally came, it flew past me. I really let MTA have it that day, and all they could ask was if it was an Express bus. No. No, it was local. It was local, and I’m teetering several feet above the highway. Come take care of this. Even some salt would help. And I can walk. I can get around. But what about the people at my stop who can’t?

Quite frankly, I’m still irritated, and that show was almost two years ago.

In short, the following points should take precedent within all forms of transit in all cities:
  • Smooth and efficient routes for riders
  • Timely service (in ALL NEIGHBORHOODS)
  • Reasonable fares
  • HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE and SAFE and BULLY FREE
  • Safe interior (from the set up of the transit to the passengers)
  • Administrative support for the drivers
  • Fair pay for transit employees (as a side note I always felt like the 8 drivers—and this was the route I took the most, so I’m sure the other routes in the city are the same—didn’t get enough bathroom breaks; riders would be waiting for the bus and bully the driver, and I always wanted to say, “Chill! Let the dude pee!” Maybe I’m sensitive to this because I had a job where the bathroom didn’t WORK and I was threatened with termination if I went across the street to pee?)
  • Ramps that don’t break down after every usage.
  • Buses and trains that arrive on time.
  • Bus bridges that actually arrive to their pick-up spot when the Light Rail breaks down

I’m about to get out of hand with my list of grievances, so I’ll stop. I don’t think I’m asking for too much. Do you? (That isn’t rhetorical.)

*This was probably insulting in how I presumed there’s a boarded house within walking distance of any point. If you’ve been hurt or offended I apologize. I drove around the city last week and everywhere I went were foreclosed homes. I’m going to go cry again now.

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