05 November 2008

Election Cycle Ends: Problems Remain

It's Wednesday morning and you're a customer of the Metro Bus and MetroLink system. As you run out the door to the corner where your 5:12AM bus picks you up on the first leg of your journey, you pick up your St. Louis Post-Dispatch and start thumbing through the pages. You suddenly realize that because there are thousands of selfish St. Louisans, you may soon be unable to go to work at the job you have had for several years. Yes, in troubled economic times, the voters of St. Louis became even MORE SELFISH than ever before by defeating Proposition M which would have helped fund the system which has been riddled by problems during the recession as well as numerous fiscal gaffes BEFORE the economy started hitting the skids. The problem now is that Metro will begin massive scale cutbacks, including layoffs of personnel, fewer buses and trains running --- period--- which will, in turn, cause ridership to decline. Meanwhile prices for ridership will skyrocket. The prices will go up incrementally higher for those who can least afford to have their transportation costs go up than the cost would have been to those driving automobiles, trucks, SUV's and even scooters IF ONLY the voters had passed Proposition M in the first place.

This is not a test, people. This is reality. Do you know what this means? Well --- to explain what it will mean, let me introduce you to Rider Strongman, a St. Louisan. Mr. Strongman is in his early 40s and has had a good job in the past where he made more than $40000 in a year. But along with the industry in which he was a highly-skilled worker and was even sought-after by some who knew him "back in the day", times have changed for Rider Strongman. He hasn't worked full-time in more than three years. He hasn't held a full-time job in his chosen industry for four years, unless you count the time he spent working for a company which failed to pay him for 75% of his work earlier this year. You can hardly blame him for leaving that situation, could you? After all, he had to take a bus, a MetroLink train, and another train just to get to THAT job, located in the metro east, and did so for four months --- paying out of pocket for the monthly bus pass which allowed him easy access to his job location. Lacking access to a job location is not always the case now, but once the new cuts go into effect, this is something with which Mr. Strongman will be forced to deal. He'll be walking even more than he has in the past because the buses will run less frequently AND there will be FAR FEWER LINES running in the first place. Rain or shine, he'll want to be on time, but with the shutdown of certain lines, he may not be able to GET a job outside of the 270 Loop. That's because Metro is likely going to shut down ALL bus service outside of I-270 because of the projected budget shortfall for 2009.

Now --- just a moment, people. Don't rush off to another blog site just yet. This is only STARTING TO GET INTERESTING.

Why will 2009 be even more interesting in St. Louis because Proposition M was voted down??? It will be the difficulty with which so many businesses will be able to hire people at barely above minimum wage because those workers who have traditionally been able to work for less (and get to work at all) will not be able to afford bus fare and train fare once the rates have increased beyond their means. Thus, unemployment goes up in St. Louis. The jobless will be forced to find alternative means for income including applications for public assistance for food and shelter, not to mention all those unemployment payments coming out of "the system". These (to borrow Senator McCain's oft-used phrase) my friends, are going to become harsh realities to all in the St. Louis area.

Ladies and Gentlemen of St. Louis --- the economy may be showing signs of improving in some locations, but you've just about signed the paperwork that the St. Louis economy is going to show signs of grinding to a near halt.

As Mr. Strongman knows --- like the Metro Bus and MetroLink rider from the first paragraph who sat in his bus seat reading the disparaging news in the morning paper --- because of the selfish voters who cannot believe that the problems of this region will be compounded if they let those who use public transportation down, filling jobs and being able to get less-expensive workers to work will become more of a burden. It didn't seem to matter to the voters on Tuesday. You see, these two people see that the voters with their own transportation have spoken loud and clear: "WE can get to work. WE don't care if someone else CAN'T get there. THEY probably don't want to work anyway."

Selfish and mindless, the voters have spoken.


If you are someone who voted against Proposition M, please state your reasons to Mr. Strongman and the tens-of-thousands of commuters who depend upon Metro service to keep their costs reasonable.

Here's your chance to sound-off against Proposition M --- but you have to be compelling for anyone to believe your argument. Send your emails to newsstlouis@gmail.com and we'll publish your comments as you sent them.