“Welcome aboard!” is written on the front door of every MTA bus in Los Angeles. Most have no idea that is so nor any interest in taking the invitation to “go public” anytime soon. We have, as a nation, squandered our fortune and future on satisfying ego’s need to cannibalize the planet for our private comfort and luxury by insisting on basing our life around the automobile. Time to put it in the garage and get on board!

Some cities never fully climbed on the gas guzzling mania and they are fortunate to have adequate public transportation systems. If not, New York City would not exist as it does today. Chicago would be even more dysfunctional and San Francisco would look like Los Angeles. Which, by the way, once had a public system which was among the best in the nation.

Today my home city is scrounging around for funds to try and repair some of the damage done when big auto-related corporations destroyed our expansive bus and rail system. Despite that rape of the ’60’s we today have a quite good system if you live and work in the right places. But years of addiction to fleeing to the suburbs and linear expansion have made it nearly impossible for at least 50% of our people to use any public system.

As a result, we have legendary air pollution which now is shared by every other city in some measure. We have consumed huge portions of of the world’s natural resources and are a major contributor to planetary crises. Los Angeles prides itself on leading the nation, but where have we led it?

The efforts to make automobiles more efficient are laudable, but woefully inadequate to meet the challenges to pollution, carbon emissions, infrastructure crises and overall costs of operation. We have to stop getting in a vehicle, no matter how high the mileage, as much as most of us currently see as necessary and appropriate.

We need to reallocate some of the money spent on improving airports toward building and improving rail transportation. We must redirect money from expanding highways toward building subways, light rail and busways. We need to spend our limited funds where it will do the most good — getting ourselves weaned from automobiles and airplanes and onto the bus, train or subway.

Welcome aboard!

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