Monday, December 29, 2008

The year in transit (part one)

From my Examiner.com blog:

As the year ends to a close we naturally look back on what happened in the last 300-plus days. The transit world has had some shifts in fare and some shakes, and as each city struggles seemingly independent of one another, we all seem to face the same woes. Part one of the series looks at the transit world outside DC.

Listed in alphabetical order by city:

Chicago (CTA)

January saw a last minute save to Doomsday provided seniors rode for free; before then there was a lot of fear. Unfortunately, a smaller doomsday followed as CTA struggled through the crisis, and jobs were cut. Mid-November saw a fare hike, too. CTA “upgraded” its continuous riding signs in stations, which some questioned as it seemed directed at homeless people.

Baltimore (MTA)

Zachariah Hallback, Baltimore Algebra Project founder, was shot at a bus stop in January. (City Paper almost questioned the lack of outrage this month.) Hallback was widely regarded as an awesome youth. (I am firmly in this camp.)

Bus routes were changed in February and again in the fall, and MTA implemented some awesome things—promising new hybrid buses and conversion buses (disclosure: I wrote that BoB) plus adopting Google Transitbefore cutting MARC service and tossing out a piece of plywood at one of its meetings and calling it a wheelchair ramp. I was furious then, and now that I am intimately familiar with the confines of a wheelchair, frustrated.

Charm City's big story at year's end is the struggle to get the red line (MTA site, “a 14 mile, east-west transit corridor connecting the areas of Woodlawn, Edmondson Village, West Baltimore, downtown Baltimore, Inner Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Campus.”

New York (MTA):

July's Critical Mass saw violence; the event is in the process of going to court/trial/an ending.

Transit was hit in the economic crisis; doom for Goldman Sachs effected West Side Rail Yard, the city considered tolling its bridges despite global disdain. The deficit eventually brought the $3 transit card (despite a hike in March), which begs the question: who can afford to ride now?

And finally, some homeless shelters have been asked to provide transportation.

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