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Friday November 16th 2018

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Metro Transit – The squeaky wheel gets the grease

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

Another slow month in the transit world… However, there was one interesting piece of news for Route 2 riders. I went to an “open house” in June regarding proposed improvements to Franklin Avenue bus service, including cutting back on the number of stops to make the bus go faster, installing new (presumably better) bus shelters, and adding signal priority, which is a system that allows buses to request a green light sooner than would normally be the case. Unlike signal preemption, which is used by emergency vehicles to demand a green light immediately, signal priority requires a computer to make a judgment call as to whether granting an early green to the bus is better or worse for the overall movement of people through an intersection.

The most controversial part of this proposal from the bus rider perspective is probably the stop spacing. Metro Transit is proposing to have a stop once every four blocks on average instead of every two blocks. That will indeed improve the speed of the bus, but will also mean a longer walk to or from the stop, especially if your origin or destination isn’t a major intersection or transfer point. Some people, however, have trouble walking long distances and would prefer a slower ride with less walking at either their origin or destination. This is one of those trade-offs that the public should make their voices heard on, no matter which side they support. (Personally, I support less stops and more speed, despite currently having mobility issues.) This is one of the reasons I attend Metro Transit open houses and public hearings on proposed changes, and write about them in this column. Not everybody has the time or ability to follow this stuff, but now that you’ve read about it, you can contact Metro with your opinion if you have one.*

On another note, I would like to recommend support for better transit in the suburbs. I know some people in Phillips probably think the world ends at 62nd Street, but that’s beside the point. Many of our State Legislators representing suburban districts think that Metro Transit is for the inner city and doesn’t do enough for the suburbs. This is one of the reasons they don’t vote to fund it adequately. Times have changed, and suburbs aren’t just for rich people anymore. Parts of Bloomington and Richfield (ironically) have ever increasing poverty issues.

*Editor’s Note: From Wikipedia – The origin of the squeaky wheel metaphor is unknown, but its current form is attributed to American humorist Josh Billings who is said to have popularized it in his putative poem “The Kicker” (c. 1870).

I hate to be a kicker, I always long for peace, But the wheel that squeaks the loudest, Is the one that gets the grease.

However, this poem has been attributed to various authors, anonymous or otherwise, and its provenance has never been verified. The first publication of the poem can be traced only to 1910. For unknown reasons, in 1937 Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations attributed the poem to Henry Wheeler Shaw, whose pen name was Josh Billings.

 

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