Politicians at any level, regardless of their affiliations, are elected by the people and should be held accountable to the people for their actions, whether it be in public opinion polls or at the electoral polls. They are elected and they can be un-elected.
Local politicians in Annapolis County now seem extremely anxious to dispense with an established, efficient system of public transit that has not only served its residents well for several years, but one which the users of that system, "Kings Transit," cherish ... to replace it with, TCTS.
"Cost savings" has been mentioned as a primary reason for this political action but at what cost and to whom? The true cost will be social and economic isolation and the ones to pay the price will be those who can least afford it.
There are many economic and social factors to consider when people use public transit:
- Adult students upgrading their education, wishing to increase the wellbeing of their families
- Post graduate students, already overburdened with the high cost of tuition and books, who use public transit every day in order to save accommodation expenses
- Seniors, often on fixed incomes, who depend on the bus to take them to doctors, shopping, or simply to get out for a break, something many of us take for granted
- Enlightened, environmentally aware people capable of understanding that 30 passengers on a bus would likely mean 30 fewer cars on the road
- People who need public transit to visit loved ones in nursing homes or hospitals and who have no other viable options
Do any of these riders sound like your children, grand children, spouses, parents? They all have names.
Council members now seem intent on destroying public transit in this county but do they ever use it themselves, especially say, to travel to their council meetings, where they sit in chairs which I am sure are quite comfortable? I think not.
Have any of you who use Kings Transit ever exchanged polite conversation with your councilperson sitting next to you while on board the bus? Doubtful. Perhaps politicians at all levels are hesitant to mix with the common folk, to rub shoulders so to speak, with the ordinary citizens who need and want public transit.
To date, this issue seems to be a one-sided affair. Are your elected officials offering you answers, or even allowing you to ask questions? Phone them ... find out.
Perhaps an open, public forum(s) on the issue should not only be allowed but also encouraged, so that everyone may express an opinion on a topic of common interest. Too revolutionary an idea? Perhaps ... that is of course, unless we live in a participatory democracy with freedom of speech.
What happened to the petitions with hundreds of names in support of keeping Kings Transit in Annapolis County? Were these petitions filed under ‘G’ for garbage, and given no credence whatsoever? The results of these petitions should be published ... to do otherwise exposes a subjective, self-interested point of view.
Annapolis residents, many of the petitioners being seniors, gathered the names on those petitions. They were concerned when the possibility of Kings Transit being removed from the county first came to light but, even more importantly, they decided to do something about it, to take a stand and to make their voices heard. Was anyone on the council listening? Unlikely.
When people have the ability to move about from one point to another, they spend money. The transporting of people, like goods, services, and information, is an economic stimulus. Cut off the transit and you cut off the spending.
Passengers on the bus are not simply numbers on a counter, they are not nameless, they are not faceless, they are not shadow entities to be ignored. Their opinions should be heard and respect afforded them, by allowing the users of public transit to be the ones to make the decision on it and their future, not the politicians who are never seen on a bus.
Remember the trains? I sincerely hope that in six months or six years I do not hear someone saying, "Remember the buses"? Passengers want more of our service, not less ... go ahead councilors, ask them. They tell us every single day.
In closing I would like to say two things:
First, Kings Transit drivers, management staff and mechanics, all take pride in providing the public with a service they can depend on. We are a team, this is a family and all the residents of Annapolis County are a part of that family. Thank you for allowing us the opportunity over these years of participating in your lives.
Secondly, when it comes to the next municipal election, I for one want to be informed, to know exactly which council members voted against Kings Transit or which ones, if any, voted in favour of us. Abstention is a vote against public transit, as it exists. Based upon that information, I know how my vote will be cast and if that information is not forthcoming, then I will simply cast a vote against all incumbents. I encourage all concerned citizens of Annapolis County to do likewise.
Don't walk a mile in my shoes ... ride a mile on my bus.