December 1975 Home   Newsletters

January 1976

February 1976

Coming this Month - January 1976
From the President (Carol Whitesell)
Honolulu LWV Calendar : Jan - May 1976
Brief Explanation of Hawaii's Coastal Zone Management Program
Ideas on Public Transportation (Mildred Walston)
Money Bags
Dollars and Sense - Financing the League (pull & save)

Ideas on Public Transportation

In 1974 Atlantic Richfield began a program of soliciting ideas from the public concerning public transportation--they used ads on t.v. and in the papers, to reach the greatest number of citizens possible, and more than 40,000 responded. The result was the publication of a series of 4 booklets about the complexity of transportation decision making. The League Transportation Committee has the series on file, in the office, available to anyone who wishes to read them; and in line with our position of supporting " a creative and innovative approach to transportation planning", we offer this very brief condensation, in the hope that it will spur our membership to "think transportation" to the extent of providing the "public input to the transportation planning process" which is part of our stand.

"Speed, Comfort and Fear", the first booklet, examine the quality of service--what is wrong with the existing services and what should be done to improve them..Travel time loomed largest to most people; the bus rider is called "a kind of urban American leper". 90% of the hatred of trains and buses is the waiting..Making public transportation possible to the handicapped, about ten million of them, loomed important to many--the crippled, the blind, the deaf, the aged.. Travel amenities, such as soundproofing, piped-in music, luggage compartments, etc., were mentioned.. Travel safety loomed large to many, safety on the streets and also on the buses (threats, harassment, intimidation, which thankfully we don't have here!) police protection on the buses, drivers carrying no money as a robbery prevention..What's next? The decisions should not be made on behalf of the people, as much as they should be made by the people, both through normal channels and small groups with strong convictions (cited was a handicapped man in a wheel-chair who fought a one-man fight with BART for wide doors, elevators, special signs in large print, special parking facilities, phones and elevator buttons accessible to wheel-chair patrons, Braille symbols for the blind, etc.)

"Paying the Fare" , the second booklet, goes into the matter of WHO should pay and who should operate the transportation systems...The question of responsibility received many varying responses: get the govt. out of the transportation business, eliminate the bureaucrats; it should pay its own way, if it runs at a loss it needs new management or is not necessary and should close up; if it's needed, it should be paid for by those who use it and those who use it must pay more; it's a necessity, not a luxury, just as necessary as police and fire protection.. On the question of increasing transit revenues, the prevalent answer was "If they had to, they'd find a way." The most basic incentive is to make it a genuine and attractive alternative to the commuter. Lotteries were suggested, with winning numbers from bus and train ticket stubs. Retirement and vacation credits given by employers to get their employees onto rapid transit was another suggestion. Better utilization of existing assets was advanced as a method of increasing revenues; stations could be maintained by firms who then could advertise their products; better use could be made of transportation systems by carrying freight, or hauling refuse at night as is done in New York; transit right-of-ways could be formed. To tax the increase in land value that public transportation produces would also increase the revenues...Under "kicking the automobile habit" are proposed many methods to discourage use of the car, which would automatically encourage the use of public transportation. Citing the examples of how we can save lives and gasoline by reducing use of the automobile, many people feel govt. should take a much more active role in regulating the use of them. Financial penalties were suggested; let gas tax rise high enough to support the highways; convert all freeways to tollways; heavily tax license plates of second cars, roads are now over-built to accommodate those who use them during peak hours, so the drivers could reasonably be charged a fee, for which the alternative would be public transportation use or change in driving habits..

"Personal Thoughts on a Public Dilemma --Technology & the Future". third booklet, really must be seen to be appreciated, as it has many many illustrations containing ideas on the technology of transportation. This program has proved that the American tinkerer-inventor has lost none of his energy or his ingenuity. But how effective are the ideas and how might they effect the development of future cities? Is new technology the answer or do the solutions lie in other directions?

"Children's Thoughts on a Public Dilemma" does not present a compendium of practical answers to our transportation problems, but is rather the untested but thoroughly hopeful expectations of the young, who believe that everything, including commuting can be fun! About 5,000 young people responded in this program--and some of the things they have come up with would stagger Jules Verne. Filled with sketches in living color it is charming entertainment at the very least, but we can also detect in these expressions of youthful verve the gathering shape of tomorrow,

We suggest that you put this sexier of four thought-provoking booklets on your reading list on the recommendation of the Transportation Committee.

Mildred Walston

December 1975 Top   Home   Newsletters February 1976