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The Zero Fare Project
Last week we had a meeting of the RAC, the first formal get together for half a year. The Zero Fare project has been everyone’s main policy objective for well over a year, and its success has sustained ridership levels to a remarkable extent. Our focus has been there.
While our system is now running fare free until July, riders have other concerns as well. I still ride the buses most days, and the overwhelming complaint of riders that I have talked to this winter is the same as ever: The curb is used as a dumping ground for all the snow cleared from both the street and the sidewalk. God help you if you have mobility issues, because nobody else will. For many residents, the city is effectively shut down for a third of the year.
The City correctly points out that property owners , by law, must clear their own sidewalks, and ignores the fact that their own DPW clearing the way for the sacred automobile, make that an exercise in futility. All that folks waiting for the bus want is a clear patch of ground onto which a ramp may be extended if needed. When we complain, we find ourselves on the bureaucratic merry-go-round. The WRTA says it’s the city’s responsibility. The City says it’s the property owner’s responsibility, and nothing can be done without. a complaint. We are asked to snitch on our neighbors, and we all know how that goes. But what about the state agencies, such as the RMV on Main Street, that never clear their curb? And what of the national corporations, such as Wendy’s on Park Ave, that ignore the law and either pay the fine or charge some overburdened assistant manager with the task? What of the elderly pedestrians standing in traffic as they work their way along a two foot tall wall of salted ice, trying to find a path out of a four lane intersection on their way to the CVS to pick up their prescriptions?? Is this any way to run a city?
It doesn’t have to be this way. Bus stops and intersections can be easily cleared, and the city actually owns equipment to at least start the job. Who can make it happen? I believe that pedestrians, who are the people who know this problem the best, would never be in this fix if we were better organized. I say “we” because every one of us is eventually a pedestrian. Let’s do this.