Your regularly scheduled weekly rant against the Trump administration will be delayed while this columnist expresses his amusement at Uber’s support for congestion tolling.
I love the idea of congestion tolling, for the same reason Uber should. It’s in my interest. I don’t have a car. I couldn’t even pass the eye exam these days. I have to take cabs or buses or streetcars or light rail.
How is it in the interest of the Uber company? Well, this is the fun part, where I get to remind Seattle where we’ve been. I haven’t always not driven. I was a cab driver in this city for 5 years in the 1980s. Ubers aren’t technically taxis, but they are cars for hire, and I know a few things about how that business works.
If someone, say, a lawyer, let’s call him Mark, calls for a cab to pick him up at the King County Courthouse at 4:30 p.m., and the cab doesn’t show up until 5 p.m., whose fault is that going to be? The cab driver for being late? The cab company for not knowing that the cab they are sending is stuck in gridlock? Or maybe, would the gridlock be thought to have something crucial to do with it?
In fact, in the 1990s, after I quit driving cab but while still feeling the pain, just that happened, and Mark wasn’t any lawyer, he was the city attorney, and he specifically blamed the cab companies rather than, say, the city, for not doing anything about rush-hour congestion.
The core of Mark’s transportation problem was that at 4:30 p.m. no driver could be sure of getting to him in less than half an hour. But he proposed tough new regulations on cab drivers and cab companies to fix his personal problem. As if the cab drivers were responsible for the congestion. If this were NYC, you could claim that. At rush-hour in Manhattan there’s almost nothing but cabs making up the traffic. But not here.
I guarantee this: All Uber wants to do is make sure there’s no tough new regulations on their business meant to fix the consequences of congestion, as if they were responsible for it. They aren’t stupid. They know they have to preempt the blame game, and focus all the attention on congestion and what the city can be doing to fix it.
How congestion tolling could be made a little more palatable: Did you all know that Metro tracks all your uses of your Orca cards? Of course now that’s kept private between you and them. But they could fix things so you could opt out of that privacy so Congestion Enforcement could let you collect discounts for tolls based on your Orca activity.
So you come to the city by bus one day. The next time you come by car when a toll would apply, it’s free. If you come by transit two days in a row, you get tolls waived the next two times.
If you don’t trust the whole thing to be done securely, don’t take the option. Pay the full tolls. Meanwhile contemplate how poor people get their lives pried into all the time because they can’t afford to not assent. (Look up “HMIS.”)
Returning to the Trump rant-o-the week:
It’s a new low every day.
There’s absolutely nothing funny about Trump encouraging his supporters to call for four Congresswomen, all citizens of this country and all four duly elected to Congress, to leave this country.
Trump’s claim now that he didn’t approve of his supporters chanting “Send her back,” referring to Rep. Ilhan Omar, is beyond feeble. He didn’t stop it while it was happening, and he hasn’t taken responsibility for inspiring it.
He created this outbreak of pseudo-patriotic racist hate, and now the rest of us have to deal with it, because he can’t ever be bothered to condemn racism. All he can bring himself to say is “I didn’t agree with that.” As though it were just a matter of opinion.
“I don’t agree with that,” is what I say when someone tells me that white shoes shouldn’t be worn after Labor Day. It’s not what anyone should say when a mob calls for a American citizen to be deported for voicing opinions phony patriots don’t like.
He should have told them to stop at the time, it was his rally and he wouldn’t stand for that.
He didn’t. The moment is past. America is lesser again.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at drwes (at) realchangenews (dot) org
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