April 13, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush,

They're threatening to kill public transportation in the city again. Well, not "kill," perhaps, but at least severely maim. There's a budget shortfall and, unlike the way you run the government, deficits aren't allowed. As a result, they're threatening to raise fares and cut service--a perfect combination to achieve an ever-dwindling number of riders that will only force more service cuts and fare hikes.

When I was a teenager, the el train promised a way out of what felt like a small, suffocating suburb and a way into a city full of promise. There was a line that would rocket you from my hometown straight to what was then the epicenter of record stores, off-beat clothing stores, and a cutting-edge late-night all ages dance club that catered to virtually every subset of youth culture in one building. My friends and I would ride that train as much as we could, escaping into a strange and exhilarating world that forever transformed who we would be.

They're going to cut that line, Mr. Bush, along with 36 percent of the rest, and it will be the beginning of the end. The city will change immeasurably--all for the worse, not for the better--if it comes to pass, a reality that seems more and more likely as the transit board confirms their plans, the state drags their feet, and a mayor who can get anything he truly cares about done stays silent.

Damn them all,



Blogger Michael said...

Having grown up in small-twon Texas, I never knew public trnasportation, beyond the school buses that took us to and from. It is only in the last couple of years living in Chicago that I have come to appreciate the possibilites. A major factor in accepting a new job downtown was the convenience of public transportation and the avoidance of the nuisance and cost of having car in a city where you cannot afford to park anyway, even if you could find a place. Now they are pulling the CTA out from under me.

4:46 PM  

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