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Free transit? Free to whom? Certainly not free to me. I have the grave misfortune to be a long suffering taxpayer here. So using the force of law to give even more of my money to other people who didn't earn it it smacks of communism, which we all know is the opposite of economic growth.
Personally, I think that instead of expanding transit, maybe it's time we started considering abolishing it. Many cities already have. For some reason they say it makes their taxes go down.
Obviously here in Edmonton, we start with abolishing the LRT trains. Those things are so bad in so many ways it's not even close to funny. Its tragic actually. So the best thing the city could possibly do at this point in history is get rid of the trains right now today. The benefits of getting rid of the trains are immediate, numerous and massive to say the least.
Next, turn busing over to private industry. The cities role should be that of a regulator, not a market participant. It is up to the people to find their own way to work. And it is their own decision, not the cities on how to do it and how much they are willing to pay.
Worse, if the city, or any government for that matter, is both regulator and participant, well that just leads to conflict of interest. And as we have clearly seen, when that happens, instead of getting the road, parks and low taxes we all want, we get trains instead.
And I know, to an autocratic dictator group such as council has become, giving up contol of anything is tantamount to stabbing ones self in the eye. Especially if that thing is something whose vendors provide staggering amounts of campaign funding to keep in place even if it's useless and the public hates it.
But amazingly, shedding useless expensive stuff works really well for society even if the leaders cry about it. If all the eye of leadership ever sees is new ways to fleece the people and hurt them with things like LRT trains, well, get out the spear and do it fast.
Consider provincial registries, liquor stores, campgrounds and the upcoming cannabis industry. All private. All part of real economic growth as opposed to communist number shuffling and all are successful. So, after getting rid of the trains, well maybe we find out that perhaps nobody actually needs any form of government supplied transit at all anymore.
This is, like it or not, a rich society. And it is one that can buy electric cars, share time on ride services, or simply move closer to work and cut back on urban sprawl. Or just work via the internet. Whatever. Not my problem and certainly should not be council's problem either.
As for commute times, traffic congestion, safety and all that? Self driving electric cars will basically take care of that for far too many reasons to list here. No, they will not be perfect. Nothing ever is. But this new generation of cars (and buses and trucks too) will be a darned sight better than the old ways of getting stabbed on an LRT platform at taxpayer expense.
The fact is, in Edmonton, well we have the best road net in the world already so most of that traffic problem stuff is a non-issue here anyway. Something about a tiny population, a ring road, thousands of miles of flat ground in every direction coupled with lots of good internal roads and, well until now anyway, a dearth of trains, all made this so.
And the history of government intervention in business and worse, actual participation in what really should be a free market is invariably the same everywhere. High prices and poor service. Little or no innovation. And political footballs that cause the taxpayer to get kicked over and over again.
Like almost everyone here, I currently do not use transit. Lots of reasons. But if I did, I'd really be complaing actually. Why doesn't it come to my door? And why doesn't it drop me off at work? And why does it take so damm long to get anywhere? Note that I have not mentioned cost. It's just not that big of a deal actually.
Far more important to me is what I actually get for my money. So for me and almost everyone else here, cars, costly as they are, are a much better deal than trains.
And this business of freezing in -30 at a bus stop gets old fast. Then, instead of going to work, getting transferred to some train full of muggers is beyond idiotic to say the least.
Everybody knows we have roads that literally go from everywhere to everywhere. And I'm ok with sharing my rides with others going in the same general direction if it saves me money and only costs a little time. So whats with this fixed route business anyway? Collect me, a few neighbors, enough to fill a mini-bus and take us all directly to work.
The cost is the same, or even less considering mini-buses are cheaper and use less diesel or electricity than a big bus does.
And even if it is more money, so what? If it's still cheaper than driving and paying for parking, I'm probably up for it. And I personally like driving. So, for the people who don't, door-to-door is an even bigger bonus. And eliminating transfers means that besides being much faster, we never, ever need trains, muggers and corrupt train companies ever again.
So, c'mon man! Belly up and sign the forms. Sayonora to the trains and push the buses out after them.
As for the transit union? Bust it by offering free or really cheap used buses to any drivers who want to start their own business and get rich. Some will, lots won't but nobody really suffers and the city no longer has to deal with it. And those who don't want to get rich can easily get decent jobs with the newly formed bus companies anyway.
And maybe the union doesn't get busted after all. It just represents drivers who now work for private companies instead of the government. It's not like we don't have that happening in other industries already.
Then let the bus companies properly compete for business. Soon we will have nice seats back. Plus we will get intelligent, efficient routes and maybe even flexible routes or custom routes. Who know? Its called innovation and I certainly don't know where it will lead and nor do you. This really is a private deal between the people who supply transit and those who use it. So they get to decide how its done. Not you and certainly not me.
As for the muggers? Funny how private businesses have so little violence. Sure, some like convenience stores do have problems this way. Taxis have issues here too. But in the end, I never really worry about getting stabbed, even in the bar let alone at 7-11 or at Macs or the back of a cab.
But on those trains? Hmm. Jeeves, bring the car around please. The missus and I wish to travel. What's that Jeeves? You're a cat? Oh right. Car, come around front please...