We’re not Christian here at The Transport Politic, but we still respect the values of giving and charity encapsulated in the ideals of Christmas. If anything, this holiday should remind us that the most impoverished among us need our support in times of need. Today, when jobs are being lost by the hundreds of thousands, when millions of people are moving from the middle class back into poverty, we should make sure that our society can hold its own weight.
We typically don’t spend time on this blog defending transit, because we assume that our readers are for the most part on “our side.” And yet today, we should remember that transit is tool for social justice.
Transit is a great equalizer. Because our buses and trains are subsidized, public transportation provides for the mobility of people of all classes. Without mass transit, millions of people in the United States wouldn’t be able to get much of anywhere. Low fares ensure that free movement remains more of right than a privilege; they ensure that getting around isn’t an activity reserved only for the rich and middle class.
In the name of this deepening recession, the MTA in New York City begins discussing $3 base fares and transit systems across the country start cutting service. Shall we allow the dark face of the market economy to intrude upon the benefits that transit provides?
This is not to say that efficient management and financial prudence isn’t a priority. But on Christmas, we must remember the role transit plays in providing for a more just society. In this case charity isn’t necessary – just remember to pay your taxes.