Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I don't think there's anyone on this planet who hates driving more than I do. I'm nearly twenty-three years old, but have only had my license for a little over three years. I only sucked it up and got one because my inability (or unwillingness, really) to drive angered my dad to the point where our relationship suffered; he just could not understand why the hell his sixteen-year-old daughter would shy away from something that he had always considered to be a teenage rite of passage.

At nineteen, I finally took (and passed!) my road test. As a reward, my dad bought me an old Kia Spectra to drive around Saginaw, where I was living at the time. But when I moved back to Grosse Pointe a year and a half ago, I sold it. Why own something that I don't need? There's a bus stop a block and a half from my house, and a bus to Wayne State passes through once every half hour. I work within walking distance of my house, and on the rare occasion that I need a car, I can just borrow my mom's.

(If I may be perfectly honest, when I was weighing the pros and cons of transferring, I said to myself, "If I moved to Detroit, I could sell my car and never drive again. That would be AWESOME.")

Within the past few months, though, there's been a lot of talk about making cuts to the SMART bus service in metro Detroit. Even when I was voting absentee from Saginaw, I paid attention to what was going on with the bus system; public transit has always been really important t me. So this time, I really did my homework. And I discovered that my own route to and from school would be eliminated.

Actually no, I should rephrase that. The route itself won't be eliminated. But it will end before the Detroit city limit. And I use it to get to downtown Detroit. Isn't that mainly what everyone else uses it for, too? The route passes through the financial district before continuing on to Wayne State.

These changes will officially go into effect on Monday, December 12.

I can't blame myself for this. I spoke the fuck up: posted about it on Facebook, answered surveys put together both by SMART and Wayne State, signed petitions, and wrote letters. There was a rally organized by students at WSU, too; I missed it because I had to work. But the fact that they had one tells me that I'm not the only person affected by this.

What they're telling us to do is transfer to DDOT, the bus system that runs solely within the city of Detroit. But that will be a huge hassle, especially given that my previous route went straight to Wayne State. I'd not only be transferring buses, but bus systems. That would undoubtedly make the commute even longer than it already is. And don't even get me started on the issue of overcrowding. DDOT is facing its own set of cutbacks, and won't easily be able to accomodate all the SMART riders from the 'burbs who would need to transfer over.

So now I'm just really bummed out. And I'm not sure where to go from here. I guess I could find myself a cheap car, but, as I've said, I hate driving and have no desire to own a car: maintenance, gas, and parking at Wayne are all expensive.

But what choice do I have? Society makes me feel shitty enough for being in my 20s and living with my parents; I don't want to rely on them for transportation, too. And besides, they've got their own places to be and won't have time to drive me to and from school each day.

My friends keep telling me to move to Detroit; they know how much I dislike living in Grosse Pointe. But even though it's a bit of a commute (twenty minutes by car; more like thirty-five by bus), I don't have to pay rent here. And I have a job here, too. So I have a number of decent reasons to stay.

Please correct me (and help me raise hell) if I'm wrong about this, but I get the vibe that people around here are way more complacent than they should be about bus cuts. Detroit is notorious for its inadequate public transit. But one of the things that I think makes a big city thrive is access to these services. And we've clearly got the foundation already; I've proven that by managing to get around pretty much solely via bus. By making these cuts, we're destroying something that we should only be building upon.

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