A Great Point made by LAMTA's Roger Snoble
I wonder if this quote will be reported to the extent that Mr. Roger Snoble of the Los Angeles MTA will land in hot water. It was honest, and, I believe, absolutely correct! But, man, what a statement!
In the April 2005 issue of Mass Transit Magazine, a trade journal generally distributed among Transit Professionals, Mr. Snoble basically says that a group known as "The Bus Riders Union" keeps pushing for more and more money to be wasted on added bus service, with the result being that no money is available for rail transit, either light rail or commuter rail. Why? The Bus Riders Union say that money spent on rail instead of buses takes money away from minorities! Snoble's point is that all transit systems in Los Angeles serve the minorities as well as the majority, because in Los Angeles the minority is the majority!
A month later, a follow-up letter appeared in the May issue of Mass Transit Magazine that reinforces the point. It was written by the Transportation Chair of the Sierra Club's North Star (Minnesota) Chapter, and supported Mr. Snoble entirely. The writer clearly states that the Bus Riders Union, along with what he calls "Right-Wing Think Tanks", have done is "nothing less than a conspiracy to defraud citizens of good transit." He goes on to be amazed by a Court of Law that enabled such an obvious "boondoggle" as the Consent Decree which bans funds for future rail transit projects.
I have no idea why reference is made to unnamed right wing think tanks; maybe it's just to convince readers that the author truly is a member of the Sierra Club. I agree, though, that knee-jerk opinions that local government has no business in public transit gets to be kind of a think-tank cliche.
Others have already devoted one site and another site to expose the BRU.
The whole issue of what effects various groups may have on minorities is a bit off-topic for this blog, but it does sadly show that public agencies do have to deal with agendas from a great number of sources. Oh, I am amazed that a Sierra Club spokesman, a spokesman from a club that often seems to be the very embodiment of political correctness in the eyes of some, takes on the Bus Riders Union. But what is going on here that is of interest to this blog is this effort to expose a subversive effort against a good transit system being done in the name of Minority Rights! Amazingly, as Mr. Snoble and the letter writer both observe, the minorities are the very people who suffer as a result!
Bringing this kind of tyranny to a conscious level has to be good. There have been horrible ramifications of the BRU. Snoble notes that there are some bus routes of up to forty miles in length. There are better options. If rail is better suited in a particular situation, and the only objection comes from some group like the Bus Riders Union, then hopefully their impact will be considered in correct proportion with other considerations. Exposing and defeating misguided outfits such as the BRU is something that Agencies must do. I hope that citizens in Los Angeles, minority and non-minority both, unite for the true benefit of everyone.