no pants subway ride in NYC

Riding without pants is also an expression of independence. From pants.

An article at the VTA Watch blog argues the case of public transit as a tool of independence, just as much as individual automobiles are. As it stands, public transit is the unattractive object. Poor people use it. The rich have cars. (And soon, hybrids!) Effectively, it’s more attractive to support issues related to automotive transit rather than funding public transportation projects. Unless, that is, you’re talking about light rail systems. Which apparently don’t actually work as well as advertised.

Next stop: Block Quote Station

The article makes a good point. Public transit allows greater access to amenities otherwise unaccessible to certain populations:

As unattractive as it may appear to people who have cars, local transit provides independence for the low income, seniors, the disabled, and teenagers. Although they cannot travel as fast as those with cars, transit service allows them independently to access jobs, shopping centers, schools, and hospitals/clinics on their own. Public transportation is generally safer, less expensive, more dependable, and environmentally superior than any other alternatives, including owning unsafe and uninsured clunkers to get around. Although transit services may appear optional and less important than other societal priorities, transit serves as a critical link for many to these other priorities, a mean to an end.

The “owning unsafe and uninsured clunkers” line is a bit of an editorialization, though. Not everyone on the road owns a clunker and, if the recent Detroit Auto Show is any indication, car manufacturers may indeed be shifting production heavily toward more environmentally-friendly vehicle designs. Of course, these vehicles are likely to be quite expensive and remain on the side of unaffordable for lower-income commuters.