Public transit-related ANGER

Hello Internet, today is Monday, January 10th, and I am ANGRY.

The reason I’m angry is because of this: infuriating article.

I’ve already written about how Metrobus could be turned into a viable alternative to personal vehicles, so I’ll do my best not to repeat myself. Suffice it to say that Mr. O’Keefe’s announcement indicates that he plans to do the opposite of what I believe needs to happen.

However, what’s got me angry are the supporting citizens of St. John’s whose argument is “most taxpayers don’t use public transit so why is it costing me $x in taxes to sustain it?” (And by the by, from what I’ve read, x averages less than $25/year.)

I challenge any of those people to hire a taxi at 5pm on a stormy weekday evening. Just try it.

“How hard is it?” you ask.

The day I left St. John’s for Christmas (December 16th – a Thursday), it was miserable all day, but pouring rain and almost freezing by 5pm. I called a taxi to get myself to the airport. Or I tried to. I called all of the numbers I could remember, and every cab number on my phone, and got no answers. Nobody was even picking up the phone at these cab companies because they were so busy.

Finally, one of the parents picking up his kid took pity on me and gave me the “back door” (second line) number to a cab company. I called it, and after seven or eight rings I got an answer. I gave him my location, got a “yep, ok” and was hung up upon. Then I waited.

I called the cab at 5. A taxi came to get me at (wait for it….) 6:15. That’s right. I waited an hour and a quarter to get a cab to the airport. I would’ve been stressed about missing my flight, only it too was delayed (presumably by the weather and not by the bus strike). When it got there, the driver told me he had been heading to my location for 20 minutes – from a place that should only have been a 5-minute drive away. He said traffic was crazy, and drivers were grumpy. This proved true, as it took us twice as long to travel to the airport as it should have taken, and I found it necessary to make a series of bad jokes to cheer up my exceptionally good-humoured driver as other cars cut him off and honked angrily.

My question: are those who say that public transit has no effect on them not driving at peak times on rainy days? Are they attributing the traffic conditions to the growing population of this city? Do they not see that public transit is essential for any growing city to avoid massive rush-hour jams and impenetrable downtown parking issues? The roads in St. John’s already require constant upkeep – upkeep that the city can’t even begin to stay on top of. How fast will they deteriorate if we have every taxi in the city run ragged on bad days?

“Ok,” you say, “I’m done with being complacent. What can we do?”

Friday last, I took a cab home from work, not because it was bad out, but because I had too much stuff to carry home with me on foot. When I asked for a receipt at my door, the taxi driver said something to this effect:

“Are you claiming this on your taxes? Good. If I were you I’d sue the city.”

At the time, I was not infuriated with the city and brushed it off. But that has changed. I am angry, and I think that math can be our friend here.

I have a thought, but I need your help, oh friends and fellow infuriated citizens. Here is my proposal:

1) Start getting taxi receipts for any trip you would normally take on the bus. It takes 30-45 seconds, I’ve never met a single driver who minded, and if you’re taking a taxi to or from work, it’s tax-deductable (all the time, not just when the buses aren’t running).

2) Subtract $2.50 (bus fare, without any monthly- or 10-ride-pass discounts) from every taxi receipt.

3) Add them all together. Then add in any wages you’ve lost because you couldn’t get to work (at all or on time) due to the bus strike.

4) Add your sum to that of every other person participating and we will have a massive number that we can throw in the faces of the City, the union and Metrobus. I am not a lawyer, and since I woke up this morning and became angry I have not spoken to one, but I believe that we could present an action of some sort to at least force City Hall to view public transit as an essential service.

The math is this:

number of taxi receipts x (average amount of taxi ride – 2.50) + lost wages due to bus service interruption = your total

Do it, just to see what this strike has cost you as an individual. (My total is $142.25 so far – in 2 months – and I walk a lot instead of taking taxis, which has a bunch of not-so-easily-counted monetary value in time spent). If you’re not angry after that, you’re calmer than I am.

If you are angry, let me know and I’ll see what we can do about it. I’m the kind of girl who writes letters and drafts petitions and makes phone calls to politicians when merited.