Monday, October 17, 2011

My years of futility in Salem transit, part 1

Highland Ave at Pep Boys

In my last post, I updated the status of Salem Depot and its endless revisions and delays.  A little further south of downtown, there’s another situation that I am reminded of again and again.

I’ve long wrote about the Market Basket bus stop and the problems navigating to it in the winter.  Around this time of year, most of us are shopping for new winter boots and hoping against hope that the upcoming winter will be mild, or at least with little snow.

This picture outside Pep Boys showed that this was not to be, early in 2011.  In 2010, the Commission hoped that the MBTA would route buses through Market Basket to eliminate the problem.

That was also not to be;  the MBTA declined the idea.  The Market Basket plaza was never designed for buses, the routes would be delayed going through there, but most importantly, the abutter to Market Basket—the adjacent shopping complex with Shaws and TJ Maxx, objected.

There will be no new bus stop in the winter of 2011-2012 and, I fear, there may never be.

Since I’ve started this blog, I have heard regularly from a gentleman, a former city councilor, who’s been upset over the bus stop and its snowbanks.

Like clockwork, I’ll hear from him when Mayor Driscoll announces funding for some new project (“She can spend $XXXXX for something but not on the bus stop!”)


He’s made me even more cynical than I am already.  I have seen and known enough about government to know that the fact of Mayor Driscoll seeking to start some project or another is totally orthogonal and unrelated to that bus stop.  I didn’t even vote for her but I have expressed my thoughts on transit to her and other elected officials regularly.

Most people who’ve been outraged over this issue have cars and don’t need to wait in the snow for the bus!

I use that bus stop regularly. If I get run over standing next to a snowbank one gray chilly day, isn’t that poetic justice?  Given what the Tea Parties say about government and those who work for it, I wouldn’t expect an ounce of sympathy from anyone if that happened!  I don’t know the politics of my correspondent, but I do know a lot of people his age who parrot  the “hard work and personal responsibility” trope of the Tea Parties so often that it is just screaming noise.  (Obviously, I didn’t work hard enough to overcome my vision problems so I could drive!)

And my correspondent is an ex-city councilor!  I feel that if you are a current city official or even a former city official, you have an obligation to answer when someone asks, “What did you do to make Salem better when you served?”

I’d like to ask my correspondent what he did when he had the reins.

I know that in 4 years and 1-1/3rd terms into my service on the Commission on Disabilities, I have to ask myself that question every time I get up in the morning and every time I sit in our conference room at SATV every third Tuesday.

I’m beginning to wonder if I can really answer that.  Thoughts in my next post. 

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