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Thread: I love public transit but.........

  1. #26
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    I have often used mass trans...but it has to be convenient. In grade school I would occasionally take the Greyhound in the afternoons to get home to the farm: the bus station was 1.5 blocks from school, and home was less than one half mile from the highway. Visiting grandparents in town, the city bus stop was one half block from their home, and a straight shot into town (before malls). My internship was downtown Atlanta: the bus was the only option. The stop was about one quater mile from the apartment, and again a straight shot to work.

    Things are usually not that convenient. If I were seeking to live in an urban area today, I would demand walking distance to a transit stop.

  2. #27
    Member japrovo's avatar
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    Re: It highly restricts life-style choices

    Originally posted by Another Non Sequitur
    Access to high-quality public transit means

    MOVING TO A HUGE, OVERPRICED AND GENERALLY OVERCROWDED CITY

    Paying obscene prices for housing

    Now, don't get me wrong... there's nothing inherently wrong with the "City" lifestyle, but it doesn't fit raising children very well UNLESS you're very wealthy and can afford to send your kids to private schools. There's no way in h3ll I would send my children to public schools in core DC, Philly, Atlanta, LA, etc. Those places are warzones. The reasons so many people are slaved to their cars and suburbia is they don't want to deal with the mess that most central cities have evolved into. Its not for everyone. But mass transit is great if you're young, and single, or young and have no kids, or if you're DINKs and love the city.
    This post makes me sad. I think you've got cause and effect backwards---which came first auto dependent suburbs or the huge, overpriced, and expensive cities you fear? I'd just as soon not raise my daughter in any of the cities you mentioned, but at the same time I'd also not want our family chained to the car in the suburbs of those cities either. I walk ten minutes to work and can pop home and see my family whenever the opportunity arises. It does involve tradeoffs that are not for everyone and may not be what we want later, but what's wrong with commuter rail, which in DC's suburbs and elsewhere should be able broaden your travel options? We all know about the Portland region's transit system and notwithstanding some recent travails the city's school system is much more solid than most---including some of the suburban jurisdictions around here. I'm not saying copy the Portland region even if you could---every place is different and has to find its own fate.---cities and suburbs together.

  3. #28
    Cyburbian bocian's avatar
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    The T in Boston is great, but they do desperately need the Ring Line. By the way, any views on the new Silver Line? Many local folks were offended that it was not fair that a poorer neighborhood (Roxbury) only got a "busway," while wealthy Cambridge folks etc. got the Red Line and the subway.. Ha, at least everyone will get to drive in the new tunnel downtown, right? Oh, if I had it my way, I would at least bring the "A" line back to life. Connect Watertown with Brighton and Allston, the trolley tracks are still popping up and can be seen all along the old A tram route...
    And one last thing, Boston will NEVER be a world-class city without 24/hours transit system. Last train leaving Alewife at 12:16 AM...? Give people a chance to DO anything wherever they do it before they have to rush to get into in an overcrowded last train... Well, you still can't beat the monthly pass' price - you know of any cheaper subway or bus passes in the city of Boston size anywhere (and the so=called "honour-systems" don't count!)??

  4. #29
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Re: It highly restricts life-style choices

    Originally posted by Another Non Sequitur
    Access to high-quality public transit means

    MOVING TO A HUGE, OVERPRICED AND GENERALLY OVERCROWDED CITY

    Paying obscene prices for housing

    There's no way in h3ll I would send my children to public schools in core DC, Philly, Atlanta, LA, etc. Those places are warzones.
    an expensive housing warzone.

    I think that's the first planning oxymoron i've heard. I live in Central Philadelphia about a mile south of City Hall. There are no bars on my windows and certainly no sandbags at my front door.

    As far as access to high quality transit - how about an overpriced suburban locale that boasts great schools and walking distance to a train (Speedline) that runs 24/7?

    http://www.realtor.com/FindHome/Home...1&lnksrc=00002

    . . . because millionaires are always lining up to live in warzones

    http://www.realtor.com/FindHome/Home...C&lnksrc=00049
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  5. #30

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    Keep in mind, though, that people buying houses like these have enough money to effectively insulate themselves from the city's ills. I highly doubt that the buyer of this townhouse will 1. have school age children; 2. send them to Philadelphia public schools if they do.

    Not that I think an overpriveleged suburban childhood being ferried around from one "activity" to another (with not a moment of spare unstructured time exists) is that great either for the kids, but lets not lose sight of reality.

    (And, I agree with your choice more than the "Give me guns and five acres" folks, but....)

  6. #31
    Member Wm.J.Lufred's avatar
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    Actually, I think the places you call "war zones" are often excellent places to raise children. I happen to be raising 2 boys in DC. THree days a week me and my 3 year old son get on the bus together to go to school and work respectively. I have a good 1/2 hour to read books to him without worrying about traffic etc. On days I don't take him to school I generally ride my bike, and am even considering getting a child seat so that I can ride along Rock Creek (one of the best urban bike trails) to take him to school next year.
    I hear what you're saying about public schools, and unfortunately we have to consider sending our boys to private school when the time comes, but not because the school in our neighborhood is a war zone.
    We would never move to the suburbs of DC. All the people we know who live in the suburbs make so little use of the best things in DC-- free museums, green spaces, special programs.
    Housing is expensive if you want to be in a decent neighborhood, but I think the price is made up for in quality of life.
    It's funny to me that people who call urban areas war zones, don't tend to spend a whole lot of time there. In fact I think it's that very attitude--probably spurred by too much local news and second rate movies--that puts our best cities in jeopardy. Most of the poor air quality , traffic etc. associated with urban areas--at least in DC I would say--comes from people driving in from the suburbs. People by the way who take a lot from the city without ever having to contribute to it's maintenance or wellbeing--ie the difficulties with our school system.
    It's just kind of sad that people live with such fear and dread of places that they have so little understanding of, and that really are great places to live--and could be better if we didn't have to contend with all the sprawl that has grown up around us, and all that goes with that, including really bad Virginia drivers.I think I need to be insulated more from these people than from my city.

  7. #32
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    I know a guy who lives in a suburb of Chicago but sends his children to CPD activites. His suburb is almost nilly white, so he sends his kids to Chicago for activities because he knows his kids will come in contact with people of many different races and backgrounds in Chicago, and he believes that that experience is invaluable.

    As far as schools go, I've heard enough stories (many first hand) about what goes on in those giant suburban holding tanks to take a different perspective on them.

    As far as the question of "good" and "bad" schools, I'm Catholic, and I went to a Catholic high school. My home town of 160k didn't have any private college prep school but my high school was small (800 students), did reasonably well on college entrance exams, and was private, so it became the defacto college-prep school in town. At any rate, colleges generally rely on two numbers when deciding to take a student, the entrance exam score and the class rank. They don't care at all about GPA, just class rank.

    I had a respectable GPA, but not for a school that turned out many Berkley, Stanford, Air Force Academy, UIUC Engineering, and Notre Dame (just naming schools from my graduating class) attendees. So my class rank (around 80%) was way below the threshold for most decent programs and I was immediently excluded. It was even slightly below the threshold for UIC Engineering, but my ACT score gave me enough buoyancy to get in.

    These parents all vie for the best school for their kids, but the above is an example of why that's not always a good thing. If the kid is bright he'll be sure to find some good teachers as mentors and can excel at any school, especially with strong support from home. And I think the suburban holding tanks are going to be every bit as bad as an "inner city" school in terms of how the children treat each other, but the kid will have to deal with all of the other problems of being in suburbia as well.

  8. #33
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    Originally posted by jordanb

    These parents all vie for the best school for their kids, but the above is an example of why that's not always a good thing. If the kid is bright he'll be sure to find some good teachers as mentors and can excel at any school, especially with strong support from home. And I think the suburban holding tanks are going to be every bit as bad as an "inner city" school in terms of how the children treat each other, but the kid will have to deal with all of the other problems of being in suburbia as well.
    I can't speak for every city but here the Providence school system really is bad. Its not just a perception, or racism, or bias (although decades of white flight created it). Most schools perform very poorly and violence is a problem. The school department talks big but has no money to really change things. The good kids can't learn when the teacher has to spend most of their time on discipline. Major cities will never fully rebound and attract the middle class without decent schools. The ills of the suburbs don't overide the need for a decent education.

  9. #34
    Member Wm.J.Lufred's avatar
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    The T in Boston is great, but they do desperately need the Ring Line. By the way, any views on the new Silver Line? Many local folks were offended that it was not fair that a poorer neighborhood (Roxbury) only got a "busway," while wealthy Cambridge folks etc. got the Red Line and the subway..
    In DC it's actually interesting because Georgetown (arguably the most upscale of communities in the city) fought very hard to keep Metro out of the neighborhood.
    But like many other cities less convenient lines are routed through less desirable neighborhoods while the premier line (why is it always the red line?) runs through more affluent neighborhoods.
    I guess Georgetown just didn't want the kind of people that needed to ride the Metro in their midst.
    DC also needs to build a better commuter line and a rail system that extends to bothe Dulles and BWI airports--that is cionvenent.
    Interestingly, after living in DC for about 10 years I still can't give people driving directions because I don't know which streets are one way. Bicycles don't always have to obey those rules

  10. #35
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Originally posted by BKM
    Keep in mind, though, that people buying houses like these have enough money to effectively insulate themselves from the city's ills. I highly doubt that the buyer of this townhouse will 1. have school age children; 2. send them to Philadelphia public schools if they do.

    Not that I think an overpriveleged suburban childhood being ferried around from one "activity" to another (with not a moment of spare unstructured time exists) is that great either for the kids, but lets not lose sight of reality.

    (And, I agree with your choice more than the "Give me guns and five acres" folks, but....)
    Yeah, i see what your saying but that just happened to be the most expensive house in one of the most expensive neighborhoods. I was holding it up as an example. Joe Millionaire doesn't cross the street to the crackhouse selling for $15k. Properties run from the millions to $100k and everywhere in between. Houses in my neighborhood probably average around $150k with the upper end being around $220k and the lower end being about $60k. Regardless, it's unfair to characterize entire cities as warzones - and in case no one has been paying attention - all those school shootings have been happening in the bible belt, not in the big cities.

    My first point there was that plenty of middle class people live in this city and plenty of them send their kids to public school. I know they're not the best. Everyone is aware of that and a lot of people take advantage of the good neighborhood public schools and send their kids to one of the Catholic High schools.

    If you're living in one of the best school districts in the suburbs (and paying the mortgage and property taxes to go with it) it's cheaper to buy a house in the city for $200k, pay lower property taxes, and send your kids to private school. To say nothing of the money you would save by realigning your car situation.

    My second point was that plenty of suburban places with good schools and good transit access exist.

    http://www.septa.org/parking_project/fullmap.html

    http://www.njtransit.com/pdf/Rail_Map_04_2003.pdf

    http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/lirr/html/lirrmap.htm

    http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/mnr/html/mnrmap.htm

    and on and on
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  11. #36
    Cyburbian Runner's avatar
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    I love public transit but.........

    ...we need a lot more of it.

    But I guess that would mean less CSD and more 12+ du/acre... Shudder... it's like... un-American.
    Cheers,
    UrbanRunner
    :)
    _____________________________
    WWJJD
    "What Would Jane Jacobs Do?"

  12. #37
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Here's a letter I just sent to our wonderful transit agency after a run in i had last weekend. A little background - our commuter rail system braches out in 13 different directions. All the lines coming into Center City converge either in North Philly or in West Philly at 30th St. Station. For example, all trains coming in from the south or west would pass through 30th St., then Suburban Station, then Market East, then Temple U., then North Philly. Trains coming from the north would pass through the same stations in the opposite order. Like all other cities in the country with a commuter rail network the system was disjointed and trains terminated at either Suburban or Market East. Ed Bacon saw to it that a tunnel was built connecting the two stations. This is an all electric system and the overhead catenary between Suburban Station and 30th St. is 80 years old. This portion of track is being shutdown on the weekends for 8 months (2 months left to go)while crews are working. The agency is also in the process of restoring Suburban Station to it's original art deco design.



    "I started my trip 2 blocks from home at the Ellsworth-Federal Station. I was heading up to Suburban with my bike. I planned on taking the R6 up to East Falls and riding back along the River. I wasn't sure what time the train came and wasn't really concerned. I was just out for a ride. No train, no big deal.

    I arrived at the station at 7:23. 2 minutes before the train was scheduled to leave. I picked up my bike and hurried down the stairs and headed to the appropriate track location only to find the path blocked by a construction barrier. I assumed the train must be boarding from an adjusted location. I surveyed both sides of the platform and saw plenty of trains parked but none with any passengers or crew. Just then the R6 goes whizzing by. No big deal. I can still go for a bike ride, I'll just have to pick a different route.

    As I went back up to the concourse a gentleman in an orange safety vest, jeans, work boots, and holding a two-way radio (who happened to be in the vicinity on my way down) was giving someone directions. He looked to me like someone involved either with the station work or perhaps the catenary work. I mentioned to him that, "For future reference you might want to put up a sign or something letting people know that they have to board on the other side of the construction for the R6."

    He replied tersely: "That's what I'm standing here for."

    Slightly confused, I said, "I didn't know why you were standing there."

    He counters, "Well next time don't act like you know where you're going."

    I shrugged it off as just another SEPTA moment (sad in its own right) but then as I was walking away he muttered under his breath "pssh, 'for future reference'".

    I turned around and said, "listen, if you're there to direct people and you see people running for a train that's about to leave all you have to do is tell them where it is."

    he said, "I've got four trains leaving."

    I asked, "four trains leaving in two minutes?"
    (with no crew or passengers)

    he ends the exchange with, "sorry I didn't see the big neon sign!"

    So the obvious question is, If you need customer service work done why do you have this guy doing it?

    The next question is, If you need customer service work done why have those employees outfitted like track workers?

    As if it weren't bad enough that weekend service is completely disrupted (when other agencies in the area managed to keep service at 20 minute intervals during longer and more complex projects), and then made worse by the fact that instead of bridging the gap by offering free vouchers for the el (introducing suburban riders to a wonderful asset) you are using confusing shuttle buses, which is made worse again by the fact that you overlapped two major projects that make Suburban Station even more of a maze than it already is - then you try to ameliorate the situation with surly employees.

    I'm quite familiar with the SEPTA system. I use it daily. I work in capital programs at the DVRPC (where you get your federal funds from) so I'm about as up-to-date as a rider can be about the system and what's going on with SEPTA. All in all it's not a very difficult system to figure out (although, your signage and graphics could use some updating.) So when you make things temporarily confusing and you need to walk people through you should do it with someone who understands the meaning of customer service rather than someone who argues with your riders over a simple suggestion.

    I've always defended SEPTA despite the horror stories i've heard because I can appreciate it for what it is. Lately that's become a lot harder to do. I don't live that far from my work. It's not necessary for me to spend $70 every month. Don't make the inconvenience of your service any worse.

    James Resta
    Transportation Planner
    Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission
    111 South Independence Mall East
    Philadelphia, PA 19106-2515
    215.xxx.2940 phone
    215.xxx.9125 fax
    http://www.dvrpc.org
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  13. #38
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    jresta:

    How long have you been with DVRPC? I applied for a job there last year but, alas, they just didn't want me.

    I read somewhere that the Gov. said that he wouldn't give anymore funds to public transportation this year (something we really neeed out here) b/c of some beef he has with SEPTA. Do you know what any of that's about?

  14. #39
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Wow, Adam Kerman and his Band of Merry CTA Haters aught to read that.

  15. #40
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Originally posted by biscuit
    jresta:

    How long have you been with DVRPC? I applied for a job there last year but, alas, they just didn't want me.

    I read somewhere that the Gov. said that he wouldn't give anymore funds to public transportation this year (something we really neeed out here) b/c of some beef he has with SEPTA. Do you know what any of that's about?
    The best part about that is they don't even send a reply. Not even some canned "thank you for your comments".

    I'm going on two years here. I did a 6 month gig in Chester but it was making me consider a swan dive off of the Commodore Barry so when this position was advertised I jumped at that instead. Before that I was in Camden which was frustrating in its own way but not nearly as bleak and depressing as Chester.
    I'm getting awfully used to these offices with a view of the river.

    They were actually just hiring two planners in the regional planning department. I don't know if you checked that out or not. I think they might be closed now. Do you live in the area?

    I don't think there's anyone who lives in SEPTA's service area that doesn't have a problem with them. Rendell tried one of these fancy Sun-Tsu moves with the budget but shot himself in the foot because the Republicans passed it. It had ZERO funding for transit. Oops!

    Now PA just got a $900 million windfall from the feds and they're divvying up the pie but it doesn't look like transit is going to see much of it.

    To SEPTA's credit their state funding is about 10 years behind inflation. That doesn't excuse bus seats soaked with urine, buses that disappear from the schedule, drivers who park in the bus lane and don't get ticketed/towed, and people who devour a bucket of chicken wings and toss the bones on the floor under the watchful eye of a transit cop.

    I actually just found out that several people (all transit advocates) have tried to fill vacancies on the citizen's advisory board but were all rejected by the mayor's office.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  16. #41
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Fox Lake is about an hour from my house, and the closest point at which I can catch a train into Chicago. You would think Metra would attempt to accomodate people like me by, perhaps, providing adequate parking. No. Hey, if you want people to use transit, make it possible for them. Sorry, just had to rant a bit.

  17. #42
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Metra spends a very sigificant amount of its capital budget building parking, 11.5 million dollars a year, in fact. They're building parking spaces as quickly as they can.

    Quite frankly, I think people need to move closer to the station.

  18. #43
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Originally posted by jordanb
    Quite frankly, I think people need to move closer to the station.
    That's a nice thought, but really not practical. I am glad to hear they are building more parking.

  19. #44
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Actually the crux of the Metropolis 2020 plan was to get greater density near metra stations to allow just that. It looks like that plan is DOA though because the suburban mayors are too worried about protecting their little fiefdoms.

  20. #45
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Originally posted by jresta
    I'm getting awfully used to these offices with a view of the river

    They were actually just hiring two planners in the regional planning department. I don't know if you checked that out or not. I think they might be closed now. Do you live in the area?
    Must be nice having an office view of the river. I have a wonderview of a parking lot, a parkway on-ramp and the county jail...scenic.

    I believe that I applied for one of the regional planning positions. I can't believe it took so long to fill the vacancies. Wait, yes I can if DRVRPC is anything like our RPC. As for where I'm at... I am currently employed and living it up in Pittsburgh.

  21. #46
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Originally posted by biscuit
    Must be nice having an office view of the river. I have a wonderview of a parking lot, a parkway on-ramp and the county jail...scenic.

    I believe that I applied for one of the regional planning positions. I can't believe it took so long to fill the vacancies. Wait, yes I can if DRVRPC is anything like our RPC. As for where I'm at... I am currently employed and living it up in Pittsburgh.
    Those jobs just opened up a few weeks ago. We have about 120 people here so, even though our turn-over is low we still have a openings a few times a year.

    We've also been having a lot of retirements lately so as everyone moves up the ladder to fill the retirement vacancies the positions wind up opening at the entry level, so we keep filling the same positions over and over.

    Well, there is a fairly tight network of planners here so finding a job isn't difficult if you're looking to move to Philly.

    Good luck.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  22. #47
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Thanks. I started at this job only three months ago and a majority of the people who work here are at, near or beyond retirement age so my chances of moving up the ladder fairly quickly are pretty good. However,it's good to know I've got a contact should I ever decide to try living in Philly.

  23. #48
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    I love public transit... MetroNorth Hudson Line... 45 minutes to Grand Central Station!!.....(New York) I live 2 miles from the train.

    I spent a week "commuting" to NYC for the APA National Convention a few years back...was fun. Better than driving....that's for sure.

    although...don't like the bus... takes 1.5 hours to get from home to White Plains.. but is cheaper than driving and parking...thank goodness I car pool and get dropped of at work!!!
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
    http://metzendorf.blogspot.com/

  24. #49
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  25. #50
    Cyburbian njm's avatar
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    Resurrecting an ancient thread...

    What was said about middle-size cities is so very true. I'm a member of the Rochester area bus service's customer advisory committee. The number of people who complain about having to go into the city to make a 'lateral' movement within the suburbs is staggering. Unfortunately the ridership just isn't there--the line I ride to work (from the city out to one of the 'burbs) barely has enough riders to justify it in my opinion. But I won't say that lest I lose it and am forced to drive. I just wonder what it will take (within reason, of course) to get more people within the suburbs to see it as a viable option?

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