Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bus driver walk-out confirms suburban fears of public transportation

While Detroit's city council took the time to pass a resolution in favor of impeaching Bush and Cheney they couldn't find the time to debate and resolve DDOT's request for officers on buses to stem assaults and robberies on city buses.

Actually, council's refusal to permit Wayne County Sheriff deputies and DDOT to work out a policing agreement isn't what scared suburbanites away from using buses. Where before a fear of buses was thought by outsiders as irrational or even racially motivated, DDOT drivers confirmed those fears weren't inventions of the imagination when the request for sheriff protection first made headlines.

Going on strike proved how important drivers think the issue is. What kind of signal did that send workers commuting from the 'burbs to downtown?
How expensive must gas become before people are willing to risk their persons taking the bus to-and-from work? Shopping? Will it matter whether it's a bus, trolley, or any other form of mass public transportation if passenger assaults are a frequent enough to merit a driver walk-out?

Southeast Michigan needs public transportation. But Detroit city council's neglecting the safety of DDOT's drivers and passengers will make progress towards that goal even slower than it has been. Reinforcing suburban paranoia of Detroit's crime spreading outside city limits probably isn't what the city council had in mind, but then the suburbs are never in council's mind unless its raising water rates or financing the expansion of Cobo Hall.

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