Saturday, August 13, 2005

Read your own paper

Many Greens celebrate high oil prices, hoping that they will cause us to come to our senses.

But the front page of today's LA Times reports: "No Drive to Mass Transit ... Raul Mercado loves his 2002 eight-cylinder Mustang convertible but hates the high cost of operating it. As gas prices hit record highs in recent weeks, the security guard has been shelling out $40 each time he fills the tank. To save money, he bikes or walks to the beach instead of driving, ... But leave the Mustang at his Long Beach home and take the bus to work in Inglewood? No way. 'I have to pay', Mercado said. Public transportation 'takes too long.'"

The lead editorial of the same edition announces "Pumped-up public transit ... Amid all the pain inflicted by skyrocketing oil prices, there is a silver lining in LA ... the jump in MTA ridership will give the mayor considerable ammunition when he goes looking for federal and state funds ..." ... for more transit projects, including rail -- which the editorial admits, is "underutilized."

No one can accuse LA Times reporters of bending to the paper's editorial slant. Nor can anyone accuse their editorial writers of reading their own front-page news.

Transit's decline through the last 60 years has been steady (in spite of huge subsidies), even through the various oil "shocks". In the 70s, Americans swtiched to smaller cars, rather than use transit.

While security guard Raul Mercado grasps the simple truth -- that his time has value and in dispersed cities, transit is incredibly time consuming -- it is still beyond the capabilities of LA Times editorial writers. Many of the latter have been singing the same tune for many years and, therefore, share the blame for multi-billion transit waste in LA.