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Monday May 21st 2018

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Metro Transit – How about FREE public transit as a great alternative in blizzards?

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

Our weather hasn’t behaved itself so far this year: March went in like a lamb and out like a lion, and the April showers that are supposed to bring May flowers came in frozen form.

In adverse weather, public transit shines as an alternative to getting in your car and risking an accident. Of course, the best thing to do is stay home during a blizzard, but when you absolutely, positively have to get somewhere, and neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night can keep you from doing something important, transit is one of the best options.

As such, Metro Transit really should advertise itself as the backup transportation system for people who ordinarily enjoy the luxury of driving their own cars, but understand that in snowy and icy conditions, a larger vehicle with a professional driver is less likely to get in an accident. Why risk smashing up your precious Jetta or Prius – or worse, your flesh and bones – just because you’re too proud to be seen on a bus or a train?

Better yet, Metro could use bad weather incidents as a way of introducing their service to new customers by establishing a new policy: Free rides whenever the Minnesota Department of Transportation declares that “travel is not advised”. Presently, we get free transit on Saint Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve as a means of encouraging people to use transit in lieu of driving while intoxicated. It is understood that one less drunk driver on a holiday evening is one less potential accident. Well, it seems to me that one less car on the road in a snowstorm is also one less accident waiting to happen. Another upside to this is some people might try the service for the first time and realize that it could be useful for their regular commute, even if they’d have to pay a fare.

As to troublemakers and joyriders abusing the system, as happens in some areas with the Saint Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve programs, I doubt this will happen with an adverse weather program. Most of “those people” would rather stay warm and dry at home anyway. Some homeless with nowhere else to go might use it to keep warm, but leaving them outside in such conditions is almost a death sentence anyway. I would hope as a community we wouldn’t want that, would we?

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