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Wednesday December 11th 2019

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Transit: Rolling in the heat

By JOHN CHARLES WILSON

In the wintertime, I have written about how Metro Transit could better accommodate its customers in the icy cold and snowy weather. Today, I shall write about the perils of riding public transit in the heat and humidity of summer. While some people may think 95 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny in the summertime is “nice” weather, those of us who are heat intolerant say nay.

One thing Metro could do is install vending machines that sell cold pop and/or water at every Park and Ride, Transit Center, and Light Rail Station. I lived in Tucson, Ariz. in 2001, and this was one pleasant amenity Sun Tran, the transit system there, provided its users. They only charged 50 cents for a 20-ounce bottle, at a time when “normal” vending machines were charging a dollar. Clearly, the purpose wasn’t to make a profit, but to ensure that people had access to cold liquids on hot days. It probably more than paid for itself by preventing people from having medical emergencies caused by overheating while waiting for the bus. Nowadays, the “normal” price would be $1.50, so I would guess they would have to charge 75 cents to break even. Fair enough, make it an even dollar and put the small profit to shelter maintenance or something.

The other way Metro Transit could make life better is to instruct bus drivers to let people board during layovers when the temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Most bus drivers are pretty good about this in the cold or rain, but many seem to think the heat is harmless. Bus passengers aren’t pot roasts!

If money was no object, I’d suggest air conditioning or at least exhaust fans in bus shelters, but I can guess the cost would be prohibitive, even if the Twin Cities weren’t already full of vandals who think destroying the heating elements in some shelters in the wintertime is “fun”. (Really, the penalty for that kind of behavior should be to be forced to stand outside for hours on end in inclement weather of some kind, whether it be heat, cold, snow, rain, or a storm. I really have no sympathy for people like that, since they obviously have no sympathy for anyone else.)

I don’t have to travel today, so I am able to write this from my air-conditioned bedroom!

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