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COLUMN: Bus-y Bodies

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Source: CVDaily Feed
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Marge Simpson: But Main Street is still cracked and broken.

Bart Simpson: Sorry, mom, the mob has spoken.

—The Monorail Song, from The Simpsons.

When the Cache Valley Transit District asked for mo’ money from Cache County and its participating municipalities last month, I rolled my eyes and waited for the anschluss of libertarian and conservative letter writers to swoop down like the mythological Valkyries to wage war against that most evil of quasi-Socialist engineering propagation, a free bus system.

I am a huge proponent of the CVTD and their free buses. And the obvious reason, I use it frequently, is only a small part of my belief that the buses that cruise around Cache Valley are a good thing. Given that our air is disturbingly unhealthy, our infrastructure is not sustainable for the influx of people moving here and that most people have to support themselves on $9 an hour jobs that makes car ownership difficult, I believe that Cache Valley is a primary example of how a free, reliable transit system can make life easier for everyone who lives here.

This is not going to a be a wonky argument filled with statistical analysis. This is more personal than that. This is a common sense argument.

Cache Valley has many poor people. They live off of assistance or a barely livable wage. Owning and maintaining a vehicle is an impossible scenario for many of these people.

And then there are the great many people who take the bus who have obvious mental and physical handicaps. The few who can drive most likely shouldn’t. The rest would be housebound or, worse, be a cumbersome burden as pedestrians.

Schools and recreational groups use the buses daily. Yeah, let us make these group raise fees on parents to pay for vans…and those vans will make for more road congestion.

And then there are those real weirdos that use the bus system: people who want to save gas money and/or think it is a civic duty to keep the roads a little less jammed. Communists!

Karl Marx and his army of mooching dregs are plaguing this wholesome valley with buses that could otherwise be replaced with SUVs piloted by lousy, unlicensed drivers forced to risk being caught by the police because we pout like children that freedom is under attack by a bus that does not charge a fair.

Boo hoo.

And what makes this apoplexy so bizarre is that many who lament a bus driving down the street with (actual) freeloaders is that we voted for it. From Day One, CVTD has been voter approved. Democracy in its purest form. Locals want something and they vote to fund it. I am humming a John Philip Sousa tune in my head as I think about that.

Damn! I love America!

Good ol’ Utah. Utahns bemoan how evil, totalitarian judges can overrule the democratic process when it comes to homophobic legislation regarding homosexuals being treated as equals, but suggest that that same process bamboozled the masses into putting buses on the overcrowded, pot-holed plagues streets.

The premise is simple to follow.

Democratic process to instill tyrannical homophobia base of suspect religious doctrine: Good.

The same process to allow poor people to take their kids to Smith’s: Bad.

And this leads to my final argument, the subliminal reasoning and awful truth as to why a vocal minority feels such acrimony towards the CVTD.

Most people who oppose the transit system in this valley do not like the people who take the buses.

Why should anyone like those people. You own your own home. You bought a car. You go where you want. You are taxed to death on too many things. You do not need a bus. Short-sightedness is a right and you exercise it. Those oddities who take the bus are the surplus population Ebenezer Scrooge dismissed with extreme vitriol. They are beneath you.

I understand this argument. I take the bus. Some of the people who ride with me creep me out. Take the “7” bus after 4 PM and it is a living, breathing argument for the theory of eugenics. Scary people. I almost want a sign posted on these buses letting the riders know heavy petting is not allowed.

Remember that scene in “Silence of the Lambs” when Clarice Starling has to walk down that hallway to get to Hannibal Lecter’s cell? That is what some of the buses feel like.

But, as I stated above, those people exist. And the argument that they can afford to pay a nominal fee to ride the bus ignores the unfortunate fact that many of downtrodden who rely on the system live a nominal existence.

So, yeah, you are asked to fork over a few dollars annually to help poor people scare the heck out of me when I am traveling to the Gardener’s Market via CVTD.

You do not like people who take the bus. You do not like the concept of a communal bus system connecting everyone and everything. You live behind a fence and you will shut your blinds to those who put their hand in your pocket so that we can have cleaner air, less traffic and give a paltry service to poor people and teenagers who just want to buy food and clothes and go someplace without having to bum a ride off of people.

The CVTD might have to make some tough choices regarding services now that locally-elected pols have told them nyet to a ballot initiative to increase revenue. Should that lead to an unlicensed driver, or an alcoholic or anyone who normally would not be forced to drive take to the wheel of Cache Valley streets from doing so, I really hope that nothing bad happens. But if it does, those who lobby against the CVTD bare responsibility for what happens. And the pricetag for such accidents will make the few dollars the CVTD asked for seem like a wise investment.