Thursday, February 7, 2008

Cities are't the Problem-They are the Solution



Prior to reading the post below about the WRTA please watch the video of Jaime Lerner from TED. I believe that after watching this video you will understand why the title of today's post is "Cities Aren't the Problem; They are the Solution" and you too will want to sing "The Sustainability Song" by voting yes for the WRTA levy.

As many of you know, there will be a levy on the March 4th ballot to fund WRTA bus service in the region (Youngstown and surrounding suburbs) through a sales tax. If approved, this means that there will be a 0.25% sale tax which would replace two existing property taxes in Youngstown. The property taxes raise 2.5 million dollars a year for the WRTA. The new tax is projected to raise 7.5 million dollars per year and would allow for the reinstatement of weekend and evening buses, more frequent city service and new routes to the suburbs. If this levy is rejected, the results could range from temporary additional cutbacks to the permanent elimination of public transportation in the city.

I support the passage of this levy for several reasons. Many city residents rely on the bus service to get back and forth between their jobs in the suburbs and their homes in the city. I wish I could say that it goes the other way as well and that people in the suburbs use the WRTA to get from home in the suburbs to their jobs in the city, but unfortunately I don't believe that would be an accurate statement.

It never ceases to amaze me, but I have actually heard people articulate that the reason they won't ride the bus is because it is for poor people. What a sad state of affairs that people first of all believe this, and second of all are so worried about being associated in any way with others they perceive to be poor, that they let this influence their decisions. This lack of awareness quite simply blows my mind! It is also indicative of yet another way that classism and racism in this region impact revitalization as well as our ability to be part of a solution rather than the problem. We absolutely must become educated about public transportation and we need to acknowledge our responsibility for the environment.

Hannah Woodroofe, a friend of mine, who has been instrumental in educating me about the levy issue, has written directions for those of us who aren't familiar with how to ride the bus. I can't thank her enough for doing this as I do believe that often the reason people don't do the right thing is because they don't know how to do the right thing. So here in their entirety are the directions for how to ride the WRTA:

Go to the Federal Station which is located downtown on Federal Plaza. There are bus schedules located on the wall facing the entrance. You can take as many rate schedules as you need. You can also find the routes and time schedules here on line at WRTA. You can pay your fare in cash when you board the bus ($1.25), or buy ticket booklets at the Federal Station. Student and senior citizen fares are .70 and .65 with proper ID. To transfer at Federal Station from one route to another, ask the bus driver for a transfer when you board the first bus (an extra quarter) and then just show it to the second driver. While many of the bus stops in the city aren't clearly marked you can pretty much assume that the bus will let you off on any block along the bus route (the few stops on the route schedule are just time markers, and there are many more stops in between that are not indicated). Drivers are good about picking up and letting off where convenient so long as you let them know from the street or the bus that you'd like them to stop. (All the buses are wheelchair accessible, although not all stops are, especially in the winter). In general, to figure out where to wait for the bus look for the WRTA sign, or sometimes an old sign pole missing the sign along one of the routes.

For those of you concerned about what downtown is like during the day. I happened to find a photo tour of Youngstown on the internet. It is great to see that visitors to our fine city see the beauty that is here.Check out the link for more.

2 comments:

J.R. said...

Here is another photo tour:

http://www.urbanohio.com/forum2/index.php/topic,14184.0.html

susie said...

Great video! I loved Jamie's term "Urban Acupuncture" and the VERY COOL multicultural themed stations or parks...
Anyone who reads this needs to get the word out and educate, educate, educate before March 4th. I just got an email today from a friend who read this blog and said "Is there any way you can think of that we might help get the word out?"

So let's put our collective heads together and DO IT!!! I will compile the upcoming meeting dates and send this blog link to the lists I have...