Friday, May 30, 2008

Yikes! Is This A Tipping Point For Mass Transit?

Think about it. People everywhere are talking about the need for mass transit. CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Network News (ABC NBC CBS), folks in Savannah's coffee houses, office workers, mom's in Forsyth Park.... the whole world has awakened to the subject. Well, I guess $4 a gallon gas is having an effect in more ways than one.

I have written about a few of my CAT board/County Commission experiences from 02, 03, and 04. What I have said is true and anyone who was there is welcome to correct my observations if they feel that what I have described is inaccurate.

Fast forward to today. The County Commissioners, led by Pete Liakakis Chairman of  CAT, have basically failed to recognize the advantage and positive potential of a county wide mass transit system. They have done nothing in their term to draw more ridership, improve the system and plan for the future. Bottom line, they have ignored mass transit while energy costs skyrocketed. Worse, they appointed a person to head up the system who only a few years ago voted for years to keep the system in the hands of First Transit. Someone who fought tooth and nail for a Transit Center location that nobody favored except him, his cohorts on the CAT board and a small handful of vocal riders. The CAT board was off track then and is now it is in the ditch. You would think they would not repeat their mistakes. 

Hope exists this year because we have reached a "tipping point" in our thinking as a community in the need and value of a healthy mass transit system. We might expect to see a "bottom up" transformation of transit planning, a consumer/voter revolt because nothing has been done to build a proper and successful CAT system. People will soon be hearing from multiple candidates for county commission who appear to be committed to quality of life issues. Issues not only surrounding mass transit, but policy change that includes canopy tree protection, curbside recycling for unincorporated Chatham County and far more bike ways and bike paths. That all sounds exciting to me, I hope it does to you.

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