Updated: May 25
Another day, another complaint about nearly any transit system from friends on Facebook who live here in Albany or elsewhere across the country. Not a week goes by without my eyes gazing on a post about timeliness, cleanliness, reliability, or perceived safety. "Been waiting 16 minutes for a CDTA bus", "pizza-rat strikes again", "RTD sucks", "the train in Minneapolis is dangerous, a friend of a friend saw a stabbing in broad daylight on it"...and so on and so on.
It seems to be the Millennial (and everyone else, but most of my friends are 25-40 so that's what I see on Facebook the most) thing to do now. In the age of cheap flights, many of us have been to other countries and witness what happens when transit systems are funded properly and have robust schedules and service. When we return home, we get the full-on American transit treatment, complete with old and dirty buses and trains, decades of maintenance backlogs, and service that is too infrequent to really be convenient for all except those who have no choice.
Transit in the US sucks across the board, and you can chalk most of it up to us being a spread out and car dependent nation: How can a train tied to its tracks compete with the wide-open road and the freedom to go anywhere in a car? The way we fund transit also sets it up for failure as most of the transit systems in the country are regionally funded and almost always starved for funds because those in far-flung suburbs usually oppose funding transit that is mostly used by poor urban dwellers.
All this brings us back to the issue of us blaming all of this on the only public face of our transit hell: The regional transit agency near you. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be pissed off about the state of our situation, but I will say that the anger (or at least some of it) should be placed on those who actually deserve the ire, your elected officials. Someone in your state legislature and Congress voted for the budgets that fund our nation's transportation infrastructure. Next time you want to throw your face up in the air and curse the gods for your late train, maybe instead scream out the name of your state senator or Congressperson.