I’m laughing at myself. I have become THAT GUY. You know him – that guy that is always shooting his mouth off on social media to his tiny group of followers. I’m looking at the view count on my dashboard, and it looks like I have about 8 people who read this blog. There was a Geico radio commercial not too long ago that was about sharing vs. over-sharing, and advised a blogger that Geico had some real news worth sharing to her 7 followers. So now I’m THAT GUY. Well, I have a really big rant to get off my chest to my 8 followers. It’s big enough that I’m going to split it into 2 posts.
It really mystifies me why so many people want to depend on government for so many things. I’m not even going to go into healthcare, welfare or unemployment benefits here. I’m going to go with transportation.
As a Libertarian, I am very particular about government sticking to the roles established in the Constitution. It just so happens that building roads IS a legitimate government function. I should make you go look it up for yourself, but I’ll go ahead and tell you it is in Article I, section 8, item 7 – which says the Congress shall have the power “To establish Post Offices and post Roads.” So the fact that government builds and maintains roads is not an issue for me. What is an issue is how bad they are at doing so. When was the last time a road project finished on time and on budget? I doubt any of us can come up with an example. In fact, most of us already know when a project kicks off, there will be delays and cost overruns that the builders will claim no human being could have ever seen coming, even though they happen on every project. Here in Charlotte, the city is building a streetcar line. Streetcars are pretty much useless, as they have no separate right-of-way, operating in the same lanes as ordinary vehicles and subject to the same congestion and obstruction as other vehicles. They are nothing more than oversized local buses, which save the passenger no time and gives that passenger no incentive to give up his/her car. On top of that, the streetcar being built in Charlotte doesn’t really go anywhere. When it’s fully built out, it will go from Johnson C Smith University, a historically black university that is just west of the center city, up Central Ave., which is the busiest local bus route on the system because it passes a nearly infinite number of working-class priced apartments, and will end where a major shopping mall used to be. That shopping mall closed in 2010. While nearly every empty or under-developed acre of land in this county has been swallowed by developers, this mall site has sat barren since the shell of the mall was demolished in 2013.
Wait, you say. You mean 80 acres of land very close to the center of town with a gaggle of residents within walking distance is sitting here and nobody wants it? And yet the city wants to build a streetcar with a destination of an empty, unwanted mass of land? Yep. That’s why locals call it the “Streetcar to Nowhere.” In the meantime, the city does have a train line that runs from center city to the southern tip of town, but we don’t have a train to the airport. But the city thinks this streetcar line with no destination is needed more.
Part of building this streetcar has meant closing a road because a bridge isn’t strong enough to carry the streetcars. The city says this will take 2 years. We all know better. It will be at least 3 years, and possibly more. As a result of this bridge rebuild, the dedicated bus lanes on the busiest road in North Carolina have been closed. This has caused the city to redesign the express bus routes so they spend less time getting in & out of center city, as they will be stuck in general traffic while the bus lanes are closed. The new express routes started October 2. Coming into town in the morning, my trip is largely unaffected. Going out in the evening, my stop is no longer available, so I have to walk 3 blocks to a different one. That doesn’t sound like much, but every extra step is a big deal to arthritic knees.
Another piece of information you need is that the city transit system has a thing they call “Riders Alerts.” This is for when there is a sudden change in traffic patterns, a road blockage, or something else that will impact the running of the system. In the very rare event that it snows, for example, Riders Alerts will be posted when routes have to be adjusted when roads are impassible. You can subscribe to these so you can get them on your smartphone. Of course I subscribe since I use the system so extensively.
Now for the REALLY fun part of the story.
The buses were running late Monday morning. What I didn’t know is that some fool had gotten drunk, then got behind the wheel of his semi and ventured out. Eventually he ran his stupid fool self into a power pole. Power was lost to the neighborhood and a major road was blocked – the one my bus travels. There were about a dozen of us waiting at my stop. Suddenly, we saw a city bus at the next intersection, on a road they normally do not use. We all scrambled to get across the road to catch it. Once I got to work, I found out about the fool drunk-driving his truck. No Riders Alert was ever issued. If I had been waiting 1 stop earlier, I never would have seen the bus on the detour and never would have made it to work.
The trip home was even worse. I left the office a few minutes earlier than usual so I could get to the new stop in plenty of time. One of my co-workers had gotten a flat tire that morning and had to take the bus home, which he had never done. But he know I was experienced, so he asked to tag along with me. I said sure, let’s roll. We were, according to the schedule, about 5-7 minutes ahead of the next bus, and there would be another 20 minutes later, and 1 final bus 30 minutes later. The first 2 simply never showed up. Someone else called the customer service number to ask where the busses were. The rep told her there were no busses coming to the stop where we were waiting, that we had to go 2 blocks up the road. We did so, but then we saw a bus coming from where we were initially standing. None of us knew if the closed road was reopened, and of course the driver had no idea where the missing buses were. This morning, someone I regularly ride with said the very first outbound express bus, which normally starts around 4 PM, didn’t show up until 4:30.
So the routes are wildly inaccurate, the drivers don’t know where they are going, and the customer service reps don’t know which stops serve what routes. Before this week I knew I would get home between 6:30 and 6:45, depending on traffic. Today, it’s a total crapshoot. Have no idea when to tell my wife to expect me.
This is typical government – late, over budget, unprepared, untrained, and absolutely no empathy whatsoever for the people they are disrupting.
Someone PLEASE explain to me why so many people want government in charge of even more things than they are responsible for already!