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OccupyCharleston (SC) should make a safe, accessible and reliable public transit system part of its larger agenda for a more just and economically inclusive society.

The American dependence on the Automobile for the past sixty years has imposed an uneven burden on our society.  While the autocentric “car culture” of the 1960s created unprecedented wealth and made Detroit one of the wealthiest cities on Earth it was based on an unsustainable set of circumstances: our nation’s unique industrial superiority following WWII which allowed us to operate without competition around the world, cheap and abundant domestic oil reserves in a global market we controlled and ample land and resources to expand a transportation system which had not reached the geometric limits of efficiency.  Cars were American made, cheap, profitable.  Gas was cheap.  The amount of travel needed was within reasonable limits.  It was a world most of you never saw, not made to last.

Starting with the spike on petroleum prices in 1973 due to the Arab Oil embargo, the subsequent decline of an Auto industry unprepared to produce globally competitive vehicles and a suburban driving budget which has doubled since the 1970s, the car is now a tremendous burden on most Americans.  However since we’ve build an entire landscape around it, it’s a necessity for most people.  Highway construction commands a higher priority than transit.  For an ordinary SC family, this is an annual cost per vehicle of over five thousand dollars in after tax income.  Many families are one major breakdown away from losing use of their aging cars.  For the disabled, the poor, elderly and those legally prohibited from driving most of the American landscape and employment is almost inaccessible.  In SC, it has been estimated that as many as 20% of the cars on our roads are un or under insured.  Many people drive without a license.  Driving and traffic have become an oppressive, alienating, and corrosive cultural element.

In Charleston CARTA has struggled to find funding and endured a years long shut down which left it burdened with a five million dollar debt which must be paid down by limiting service.  Many areas lack sheltered stops, sidewalks and roads designed to operate safely.  Despite this, over four million rides were taken on CARTA last year and ridership is up 10%.  Trident Links, which provides service to rural areas is also actively used.

We’re lucky to have the transit services we have.  Most of South Carolina’s communities have nothing.  However our governments are poised to spend the last funds available for public infrastructure on huge road projects.   A needed commuter rail system to Summerville is planned, but unfunded.  A central bus and rail station for the region in N. Charleston is not supported by some federal elected officials.  Large areas leave riders standing in the cold rain, exposed to high speed traffic to wait for buses.  CARTA is forced to cut routes and juggle money to continue operating.

Consider planning to use transit as part of the #OccupyCharleston effort.  Do outreach to transit riders.  Support transferring a tiny portion of what we’re spending on highways to sidewalks, bus stops and bus pull offs for stops.
Transit is a journey we make together.  I hope #occupycharleston will get on board

William Hamilton, Coordiantor, East Cooper CARTA Riders

This will be distributed at tonight's #occupycharleston GA meeting.  A full list of www.eastccrider.com 's activities for October 2011 can be found at October ECCR Activities

Originally posted to wjhamilton29464 on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 12:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    William Hamilton practices Law and is a writer and community activist in the Charleston, SC area. He can reached through www.wjhamilton.com

    by wjhamilton29464 on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 12:46:22 PM PDT

  •  I support this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DawnN, Neon Mama, RiaD

    100%. Transportation is one of the biggest economic hardships for 99% of Americans, especially the poor. Charleston is better in this regard than rural South Carolina obviously, but its in the stone age compared to say, the San Francisco bay area. Not to mention the devastating impact on our environment. Good piece. This is a solid proposal.

    Can't wait to meet you tonight. Thanks for all the work you've done.

  •  This is a great proposal and I hope it flies! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Mama, RiaD

    Best of luck to you, and GO Charlestown!

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 01:47:14 PM PDT

  •  Meanwhile..... Make some jobs (0+ / 0-)

    by becoming drivers of dependable vehicles at affordable rates for the busless.

    Investigate laws and insurance.

    See if "car service" is cheaper than "taxi."  The difference here was taxi was on demand while limo/car service had to be scheduled at least 24 hrs. in advance. Huge difference in car insurance cost.  Business license was under $15.

    I ended up driving taxi for a decade because I couldn't reach jobs I found by bus, so became the "ride" for many busless others.  (Started at name brand taxi co.  Then went on my own as one woman "limo" in a two door foreign non gas guzzler -- hoping to prevent wars for oil. Couple of decades ago.  Sigh.)

    Cell phones to dispatch yourself are MUCH cheaper now too.  I didn't charge "time."  Used mileage button to clock fare.  But if car doesn't have it, you can record mileage at start and end of trip -- subtract to count the miles.

    PS -- Insurance companies may not tell victims that they must pay for taxi etc. to and from covered medical visits -- if folks can't drive themselves there.  This included Medicaid, Medicare, workman's comp. and private insurors.  A little more paperwork, but it pays the rent.

    Thank goodness we had bus routes by the time I needed to
    park it.

     

    De fund + de bunk = de EXIT--->>>>>

    by Neon Mama on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 03:05:28 PM PDT

    •  Liabilty (0+ / 0-)

      The issue often missed when people use their car as part of a start up small business is that regular car insurance won't cover a commercial vehicle.  If you are delivering pizza for Dominos using your private auto insurance and you hit someone, the insurance carrier will deny coverage.  Then you you have no legal defense and noone to pay the damages for you.

      The insurance company will be able to obtain copies of your tax return and if you deduct your vehicle as a business expense, they'll attempt to deny coverage.

      I've had this happen to clients.  In both cases we were able to reach a compromise, but it was a huge risk for them to attempt to use a private vehicle for business purposes without a commercial automobile insurance policy.

      William Hamilton practices Law and is a writer and community activist in the Charleston, SC area. He can reached through www.wjhamilton.com

      by wjhamilton29464 on Fri Oct 07, 2011 at 08:26:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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