As ancient buses fart and bellow their way through ghetto streets, clean shiny trains pass overhead, extending the life of the suburbs, if only for another day.
I've been in the transit business most of my life. That means I've spent most of my life watching public transit in decline. Outside of limited rush hour service, buses have become the absolute rock bottom transportation alternative for people too poor to own cars.
I'll admit that buses aren't the best transit mode. At one time, most American cities were served by interurban light rail systems that performed far more efficiently than buses. That was before the creation of suburbia as we know it. The interurbans were destroyed by a well documented conspiracy involving General Motors, Firestone Tires and Standard Oil.
At the heart of the conspiracy was the creation of suburbia, the great evil at the heart of America. I'm not kidding. There's very little wrong with this country that can't be traced back to suburbia. I'm not guilt tripping suburbanites. I got tired of stepping over used syringes and pools of urine on my doorstep. I moved to suburbia a long time ago. This isn't a matter of individual choice. (Goddamit!) I'm talking about a system that leaves us very few choices. You can make all of the choices you want. When it comes to buying green you will never put a dent in the system of suburbia.
Suburbia has created a nation of dispersed and isolated consumers. We are de-ethnicized, de-classed and self identified as white and middle class. Those of us who are unable, or unwilling to accept deracination and loss of personhood are forced to exist as "others". The great suburban mass does nothing in it's own name, but rather drives from work to store to failed personal wealth creating investment, home, where we consume propaganda and wonder what went wrong. We are isolated so that we can be taught to hate each other, to believe only in the myth of the nuclear family. We are dispersed so that we do not identify with fellow workers or members of our nonexistent communities. We live in terror of the great mass of others, just over the horizon. They want we have.
Meanwhile, The Others are maintained in a state of perpetual misery: Ceaselessly harassed by the state, allowed to work at only the worst paid most dangerous jobs, demonized in the media and blamed for their own condition. The Others live in a police state where every institution exists to maintain their misery. Even the institution of public transit, my own personal institution, is part of that Police State system.
Public transit is, in some sectors, being reborn. Inner cities are being gentrified and recreated. Young suburbanites are being recruited to move into new developments where they will continue to exist in consumer isolation, stepping from their hybrid cars into hermetically sealed architectural masterpieces. On the weekends, they can step over the former residents of their new neighborhoods and visit the many new businesses that have sprung up to cater to neo urbanites - and to exclude ur urbanites. A wonderful new system of public transit is being envisioned to connect these exciting new urban suburbs and the old but still thriving traditional suburbs.
Trouble is, the whole capitalist thing is just not working out. Money belongs to the wealthy and should not be spent on people who do not have enough entrepreneurial spirit to loot society. Our first responsibility is to provide wealth to the wealthy. There isn't enough money left to provide services for the middle class, never mind the poor. Where will money come from to build the gleaming railways to suburbia? Where else can it come from but from the poor?
Which brings me to today's transit news:
"A federal magistrate has dismissed a suit by AC Transit riders who accused the Bay Area's transportation funding agency of racial discrimination by steering state and federal money to trains with a relatively higher proportion of affluent white riders and away from buses that carry more poor and nonwhite passengers."
In other words, "Fuck you bus riders. We know who you are."