Scot, like many others, picked up on this:
The story of a Detroit man who has been walking 21 miles a day to get to and from work for over a decade inspired a Michigan college student to launch an online campaign to buy him a car. Thanks to the generosity of strangers, the campaign has raised more than $60,000 in a day.
Since buses don’t cover the entire 23-mile route, 56-year-old James Robertson spends nearly all of his free time during the week commuting to his $10.55 an hour factory job ….
But further in the Detroit News story is this:
A land of no buses
Robertson’s 23-mile commute from home takes four hours. It’s so time-consuming because he must traverse the no-bus land of rolling Rochester Hills. It’s one of scores of tri-county communities (nearly 40 in Oakland County alone) where voters opted not to pay the SMART transit millage. So it has no fixed-route bus service. …
“The last five years been really tough because the buses cut back,” Robertson says. Both SMART and DDOT have curtailed service over the last half decade, “and with SMART, it really affected service into Detroit,” said Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United.
CityLab picked it up, though:
The harder task is addressing the underlying issues that led James Robertson to walk 21 miles to and from work every day in the first place.
Just think about it for a moment: strangers are falling over themselves to help subsidize a personal vehicle for one individual (although insurance, gas, and maintenance are obviously on him going forward), but voters in dozens of suburban communities in the Detroit area have voted to “opt out” of the region’s public transportation system. In so doing they have shut down job opportunities for thousands of area residents who are eager for employment, and denied employers access to untapped sources of labor.
“This region has been unable—and unwilling—to weave together a sensible public transit network,” writes Stephen Henderson, Free Press editorial page editor. “While Robertson’s circumstances are extreme, he’s but one victim of our collective neglect … [H]ow many of those willing to help Robertson have voted to opt their communities out of SMART? How many would support a new tax to create a coordinated, regional system that could get people all over the place from where they live to where they work?”
Not relevant for us?
One of the least reported issues related to our referendum is the fact that there is no status quo: if the referendum fails, we start to cut back on the existing level of service (since the expansion of the past assumed an increased level of funding in the future.) One estimate: Vancouver goes back to 2005 levels.
But it won’t be equally distributed across the region. Though no doubt fraught with politics, some services may be cut to support areas where transit is more heavily used. And some in Metro Vancouver could find themselves in an analgous position to James Robertson: unable to afford a car, unable to use transit.