Letters for July 24, 2008

Letter of the week
When the hell will there be transit security?

Re “What the hell will it take to get you out of your car?” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, July 17):

Answer: security cameras, in plentiful supply. And vengeance.

I live in Loomis, so I have little reason or opportunity to take light rail. However, one Friday I didn’t want to get up early to catch the train, so I thought, “What the heck, I’ll try light rail.” Considering the gas to get downtown plus the cost and trouble of parking plus driving in evening rush-hour traffic on a Friday made the halfway compromise of light rail seem straightforward. I parked and rode from the Roseville station. At 6 p.m., I disembarked at the station, got in my truck and turned the key. That’s when things got dodgy.

Instead of hearing the aged but relatively healthy purr of my Toyota pickup, I was greeted with a chugging roar, a sound only the offspring of a Harley on steroids and a dragster could make. There is one thing I know of that can cause such a sound: a partially or completely removed catalytic converter.

“Crap,” I thought (at least, it was something like “crap”).

I got out of my truck, looked underneath and was treated to a gut-sinking vision: not only was my catalytic converter gone, but most of the exhaust pipe had been taken as well. Thieves had come and hacksawed right through it and made off with the whole lot! I was not impressed.

I signaled to the transit cop on a bike who was sitting a few yards away and told her of my troubles.

“Crap,” she said. “That’s the second one today! I can’t believe this has happened on my shift.” I, too, was stunned, though it was difficult for me to commiserate with her troubles.

The transit cop gave me a number to call to report the theft. It would have been great if she’d given me the correct number or even the Web site to visit rather than a number that goes to a phone no one answers. Ever. I got the truck to a repair shop and left my poor truck to be fixed. FYI: This repair is not cheap. Not cheap at all.

So there you have the ill-fated answer to your question, SN&R: What the hell will it take to get me out of my car? Security cameras, more transit cops and—when the police catch these little bastards—a chance to exact vengeance. Let’s see how they feel with their undercarriages removed.

Trina Filan

Don’t blame the readers

Re “What the hell will it take to get you out of your car?” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, July 17):

As a regular rider of local public transit, I must compliment you on your informative and much-needed article on Regional Transit’s problems. The only part I dislike is the title, which seems to be screaming at the majority of readers for not riding transit. As your article makes clear, for a number of legitimate reasons, many Sacramentans do not find RT a safe, convenient or reliable alternative to their cars. I don’t blame them.

Perhaps instead the title should have been, “What the hell will it take for state and local leaders to get serious about mass transit?” California’s finances and budget process are so dysfunctional at this point, that I am pessimistic about the state’s ability to fund a modern mass-transit system. Then again, it seems that whenever a freeway needs widening or an airport needs expanding, there is never a shortage of money. If we are really serious about cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, those priorities need to change.

I’ve thought for a long time about what riders can do to resist further fare increases and ongoing crappy service from RT. Would a rider boycott, along the lines of the 1950s Montgomery bus boycott, work? Instead of that boycott’s fight against racial segregation, a rider boycott against RT would protest lousy service, high fares and harassment and threatening of riders. Regular riders could organize car pools, bike rides and walks to work, while others would picket bus and light-rail stations. It would show our leaders that riders are sick and tired of being treated like second-class citizens by their budget priorities.

I’m not sure whether this idea would work, but somehow we Sacramentans who want better mass transit need to make our voices heard—more loudly and more clearly. We certainly haven’t been heard so far.

Dairl Helmer

Outrageous ticket prices

Re “What the hell will it take to get you out of your car?” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, July 17):

Thank you for the article on the state of light rail in Sacramento. It was a fascinating read, especially the part about how [the cost of] a monthly pass could rise to $100 or $128 in the future if funding does not improve.

I have commuted on light rail almost every day since the beginning of the year from Folsom to downtown and Midtown Sacramento, and it has been very convenient. However, I thought paying $85 was bad enough, and if it cost me any more than that I would rather drive and pay for gas (especially when you consider the gas it takes to drive to the nearest light-rail station every day, stations that are further than they should be due to the considerable lack of parking available after 7 a.m. in many Folsom stations.)

Thankfully, I am a City College student and get a free semester pass as part of my registration (only $15 for a semester’s use!) and have not had to pay a heinous amount for a monthly pass for a subpar transportation system. Eliminating light-rail and bus routes feels like a giant slap in the face as a citizen, since it is one of the few things my taxes support that is not going to waste.

Rachael Sansom

Forgetful Legislature

Re “What the hell will it take to get you out of your car?” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, July 17):

After the governor and Legislature slashed $1.3 billion from public transportation last year, they may not have foreseen gas prices rising to levels above $4 less than a year later. They might have also forgotten about Assembly Bill 32’s goals of reducing California’s greenhouse-gas emissions and that the transportation sector accounts for nearly a third of CO2 emissions.

With the state Legislature on vacation until August, the people have time to contact their elected representatives and let them know how important public transportation is. Even those who don’t ride buses or light rail should also let their elected officials know that they, too, benefit when communities have adequate transportation choices. With 2008 being an election year, candidates running for state and even congressional office should also be informed about the significance public transportation has to communities and the environment.

Hopefully, public transportation support will be loud enough to be heard by political incumbents and office seekers so they know how much the public is concerned about it.

Randell Hansen, treasurer
Train Riders Association of California

Not so punk, punk

Re “Hipped out” (SN&R Letters, July 10):

So Avi Ehrlich is pissed off that his look is being appropriated by “some idiot suburban 16-year-old slut” who “will be popping out babies and working as a secretary in two years” while he’s still “changing the world” by being punk. Newsflash: being a sexist, elitist loudmouth doesn’t make you punk—it just makes you a prick. And sluts and secretaries (not to mention parents) can change the world just as easily. Just think about how all that energy expended eviscerating hipsters could be better spent—say on topics that actually mattered.

A truly punk attitude would be to question stereotypes, assumptions, and ignorance, not to perpetuate them.

Karen Hirsch