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The meek shall inherit the earth, but not a transit system

I composed a very eloquent and well thought out essay on the Minneapolis/St. Paul Transit Strike and its implications on my 4 mile walk home from work today, but I had no tape recorder and it's hard to take notes while you're walking. I'll try to recreate it for you here.

Many in this fair city, which used to be a fare city, have had many hardships since the Local 1005 Amalgamated transit Union workers went on strike a few weeks ago. I have had it pretty easy. I have a friend and co-worker who has been giving me a ride. When she can't my wonderful boyfriend let's me drag him out of bed in the morning to drive me. But today, there was no way around it, it was either cab it or walk it. I thought, well, it'll be kindof fun, and I'll stop and shop downtown a little like I used to when I rode the bus. but, as I walked, I thought more and more about the implications of the strike and the things it portends.

The Transit management and our gov. Pawlenty and others, seem to feel that the strike is no real problem, because there are no massive traffic jams. What they don't understand is that most of the people who rode the bus don't have cars. It's obvious to me that they- especially Pawlenty- see things in terms of the suburbs, and not the city, the rich and not the poor. They may see the strike as a minor inconvienience to those who were taking the bus to save a little cash and get some relaxing reading done on the way to work. The reality is that many people who take the bus rely on it to get around. These people have no other option. I'm thinking of the handicapped and elderly. The people most affected by the bus strike are the very people who are silent about it. I used to see a little old lady on the bus all the time. She was so hunched over I don't know how she could see where she was going. She always had one of those little fold-up cart things with her on the bus. I wonder if she is even getting out of the house now.

I have felt a little guilty about the fact I have it a little better now that there's a strike. I actually can sleep in a bit and don't have to brave the elements as much. Even so, having someone else drive me around all the time is something I don't like. I'd gladly get up a little earlier and brave the elements for my sense of freedom and self-suffiency back. I wonder about the low-income mother with small children in tow, trying to get her kids to daycare and herself to work.

I fear that as the strike drags on, more bikes and cars will be stolen as people get desperate. I fear that more men and women will be attacked and mugged as they walk in unfamiliar territory. I fear there will be more pedestrians hit as they try to get around. I fear that the animosity between bikers and motorists will increase as more inexperienced riders take to the streets. And if Pawlenty had his way I fear that we will lose our public transit all-together, in favor of toll-roads.

I read in the paper about Pawlenty and other policy makers, saying they don't see any effect from the strike at all, in fact it makes some question whether we even need a transit system at all. I know they are no looking. They don't see all the unlikely bike-riders trying to balance their groceries on the handle bars. The women loaded down with a heavy backpack (like me) walking miles to and from work getting blisters. They are blind to the blind, trudging along on the pavement with their sticks and dogs, walking much farther than they ever dared before. They don't see the new people asking for change in front of Target that make me wonder if any of them could be there because now they can't get to their jobs.

Gov. Pawlenty and Transit Management et al, can't seem to see the real cost of the transit strike. The real cost of the transit strike isn't the cost of a few more roads and a few more cars, the cost is people's lives and their ability to live them. The ability to get to their job without having to walk 10 miles to and from work as one man I read about is doing so he won't lose his new job. To be able to get around without feeling like a burden to others just to get to the grocery store or the doctor.

I hear that the Transit Union and Management finally had a meeting today after 19 days. I hope they see past their differences to resolve this strike quickly so that some of us don't have to give up on life as we know it.

March 22, 2004 | Permalink

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» Twin Cities trials from me, my life + infrastructure
The transit strike in the Twin Cities continues. Thanks to Matt, who linked to three blogs covering the strike from Metro Transit employee perspectives: The Transit Librarian (great name), bus driver Jim Jeffries, and Strike! from City Pages. The Minne... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 27, 2004 2:27:51 PM

Comments

CHEEK sez no settlement reached yet.

Posted by: Chuck at Mar 23, 2004 4:18:57 AM

That is Op-Ed page material right there, Lori. Seriously. I think you should send it in. If I was one of those who depended on public transportation for my livliehood, I would be moved if I read this in the newspaper. Maybe political officials would be, as well.

Posted by: Tim at Mar 23, 2004 2:34:27 PM

Thanks Tim! That's a great idea and considering the results of the talks yesterday, maybe I will.

Posted by: Lorika at Mar 23, 2004 2:47:40 PM

Here's a little capitol video from both sides.

Posted by: Chuck at Mar 23, 2004 6:56:39 PM

Good Work, thanks for sharing this information!

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