Now that San Francisco is officially the most elite city in America, shouldn't we have a public transportation system that works? Or does our dysfunctional transit system point to an elitism at work as income disparity rises here? These are the questions being asked by a New York Times opinion piece penned by Seattle-based columnist Tom Egan.
Egan visited San Francisco and experienced what many Bay Area commuters have experienced over the years, a rush-hour meltdown that took down an entire transportation line. In his case, it was a power glitch on CalTrain that put the entire service out of commission and stranded him down on the Peninsula, but he uses it as an example of how San Francisco, as a city, isn't serving its middle- and working-class citizens very well. He cites the figure of $50 million as what Muni costs the city in lost productivity due to its slowness (the slowest system in the country, he notes, at an average of 8 miles per hour), and its frequent breakdowns.
In New York, at least, rich and poor are more likely to rub elbows, and even make eye contact while getting around. The commute is a daily reminder to the very wealthy that not everybody can afford those new condos overlooking Central Park, just listed at $53 million.
[In San Francisco], transportation segregation is on the rise because you can’t rely on the public system. And when you put the working poor and middle class out of sight, you put them out of mind. The sleek fleet of Google-bound buses and black über-taxis is a market response to a costly, unreliable, unpleasant transit system.
Yep. He's right on about that, and the whole reason for the corporate shuttle buses is that BART doesn't serve Silicon Valley much at all, and it's not that easy to access BART from most of the city's neighborhoods either without hopping a slow-ass Muni bus.
So, we've been shamed in the NYT again, everyone. And Egan adds more fuel to the fire in re: losing the cool kids and the middle class. "A city without its nurses, its teachers, its artists, its waiters, its bus drivers, its cops, its musicians and writers and grandmothers as residents is a monoculture," he writes. "As sterile as a forest of a single commercial tree species."