Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cleveland/Akron -- Youngstown/Warren Missing the Bus and Train on Being linked through Public Transportation

Northeast Ohio needs a united regional people ground transportation network which would serve Cleveland/Akron-Canton, Youngstown/Warren.


All of these cities are within an hour or so drive from each other--and in the regional sense of thinking, form one tri-metro region of roughly 4 million. However, all are drastically under served in people transportation options when it comes to linking them together.

Once all connected by rail many years ago and united in their economic power, are now mostly divided. So close, yet so far, indeed! We need to have more sustainable options in stitching these places together---other than being forced to drive or own a car. A region with this many people having largely the only choice of a car to get around--and to and from each of these cities is insane and extremely taxing on the environment. What is more disturbing is the complacency of many people who seem to think this is normal and acceptable. Oh how things have changed from a time some 70 years ago when one could get almost anywhere in this region without a car--to a time when you can virtually get nowhere without one!

Federally and state wise, for the last 50 years or more, had we invested our tax dollars in promoting and improving our public transportation networks rather than putting most of the money into creating an automobile dominant and dependent society by building a maintenance intensive road and highway system—maybe it would have helped shaped the way more people chose to get around.

Still today, a largely ignored demographic that would prefer to not spend their money driving and on all other aspects of expenses associated with driving such as insurance, maintenance, fuel costs, risk of getting tickets, and so forth---includes some who cannot drive for health reasons---and moreso, the growing number of those who simply do not want to be living their life strapped inside an automobile—AND, who do not wish to own one for that matter. This sector includes many people young and old who want to live car light and who seek regions in which to live that offer either extended bus or rail services. Many are bright minded folks who will take their talents and monies elsewhere where such services exist.

Case in point of the dismal state of alternative transportation options that could link all N.E. Ohio....


Example: If you do not wish to drive: Try searching options to go from Warren to Cleveland. Well, there is the first and obvious option of trying to find a friend to get you to Cleveland....

But what if you cannot find anyone?

Their is the option of taking a cab, of which Warren hosts no legitimate cab company—just a couple guys who stick a taxi cab magnet on the side of their car and viola, instant cab! Oh, and the cost is only $150.00 dollars one way!

How about the Greyhound Bus? ...Uhhhh.... Nope... does not stop in Warren anymore. Has Warren become so scary that even a Bus won't stop there anymore?  

Now, how about a shuttle from Youngstown Regional Airport... Nope...

This brings us back to feeling forced to drive... Ok, so  how about  a car rental?

Yes, but make sure you do not chose this option on a weekend or you are screwed as I had discovered they are all closed or with very limited hours! I

"Hey...WAIT!"....is their a commuter rail service?" An out of towner asks who is used to a diversity of transport options.  

Uhhh.. No. Not since the late 70's, early 80's.

Ok, so its back to Greyhound...
Uh yes, there is the itinerary to travel only about an hour within our N.E. Ohio tri-metro area...  At last, I have found it!!! Get up at 6:00 AM and walk to Courthouse square....take the WRTA Warren express to their most beautiful Youngstown station (Sarcasm)...then take the 9:15 Greyhound to Cleveland via Akron and get to downtown Cleveland by 11:15 AM.

I really did not mind doing this as it proves one can get around without the car if they had too... BUT, for such a close distance, the itinerary could not be more indirect and just plain goofy! And, if time is of essence, this option is not likely. Other areas in N.E. Ohio actually do offer transportation options for further transport out of their cores, although in need of their own extensions.

But, why cannot we find a way to partner these transportation groups to connect the dots between Cleveland/Akron and Youngstown/Warren, more directly in our region?

Rail economy instead of fracking.....


We should have rail and light options too! And, while this topic is up for a moment, rail will bring REAL and respectable jobs to N.E. Ohio with all that encompasses the development and fostering of it—yet at the same time, costs far less to maintain two steel rails than thousands of miles of roads. Hey, we could save tax payers money, but the guys who have road repair contracts will not like it. So what, they can get off the stage and find a new job with rail! This maintenance intensive "road only" option has drained tax dollars for far too long. Its time they get off the stage and fall by the wayside just like whale oil did! It will result in cleaner air and offshoot economic development in and around stations. Such could be the benefit of rail development and a more energy sustainable future would be promoted.
BUT ALAS.... instead, we opt for economic development containing all the false hype and promises of a fracking industry who takes advantage of the ignorance, desperation, and gullibility of so many people around here who jump on the hype bandwagon as long as the word "JOBS" is attached. We opt to have our water and environment contaminated and with a future price tag to clean it up—if it even can be---placed on the shoulders of the public. Cancer in water instead of cleaner air and water. We chose the promise of jobs at any cost. And, no matter how few people actually benefit short term in the long run.

 
So far we have seen jobs outsourced, energy products being extracted and taken elsewhere--while these companies leave our land and water polluted for taxpayers to pick up the tab not only with future costs of clean-up, but the untold costs on public health. Goodness, don't we have high enough cancer rates around here?  I thought we learned a lesson when the heyday of heavy industry left our waters and air contaminated. I guess not. Fools flock to promises of the fracking propaganda as if it were the california Gold Rush. How foolish are we?

Let's go FAT-MART!!!


Yes, this the choice: A mostly polluting economic development instead of reaping benefits of a cleaner greener economic development that could result from developing a better public transportation network via rail and bus. Yes, indeed...this is the best we seem to do and add to this, fuel to sustain an economy of 24 hour Fat Marts selling crap we don't need.... and even chop shops who install noisy illegally modified equipment on vehicles which break laws---or call for more money spent to revamp local noise ordinances! Oh, and add fast food joints and wing shacks which help foster the obesity plague. Oh God...we surely could never have transportation alternatives which may actually involve a bit of walking! No, never.... we need to walk less, not more here, right? We would never want to promote ideas that could actually promote a healthier environment and populace, body, mind, and soul. That would be too difficult, then, for the fracking industry to sell their bill of bull shit to the resulting dumbed down public.

Don't miss the bus....or train!.....

Other cities who offer comprehensive transportation options reap the rewards of attracting bright individuals who have money to spend in the economy. We are losing this opportunity by not offering what they want and look for in transportation. In particular, places like Warren. And even Amtrak does not make a stop in Youngstown anymore. By passed from a smarter, cleaner, and greener economy are we. In a time when we need transportation alternatives the most, we have them the least... and in a time when we needed them less, we had them more. The public, and elected officials as well, need to wake up and realize the utter dysfunction of this region not linking together to join economic integrity, diversity and stability! Revamping our transportation networks would be a great start!

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