Friday, December 7, 2018

Microstory 990: Public Transportation

After I write one of these entries, I try to remember to take a look at what the next topic is going to be, so I can have some time to sleep on it; assuming I don’t write two or more in a row. Before I got the chance to remind myself of this one, a notification for a news story came up on my phone, informing me that Luxembourg is set to become the first country to make all public transportation free. I think that’s great. It can solve a lot of problems with traffic congestion, but it doesn’t solve everything. Cost is not the only factor in deciding whether or not to travel by public transport, or own a personal car. If you live in New York City, or Chicago, it’s usually best to not own your own car. A bus comes every few minutes, and they have all kinds of other options. By comparison, Kansas City is a fairly small metropolis, and doesn’t have near as many opportunities, especially not if you live in a suburb. Though I guess that’s true of many suburbs. Back when I was working at a single location permanently, I took a look at the bus schedule nearby and discovered it would be impossible for me to try. The nearest stop by my workplace was miles away, and even if I decided to walk or bike the rest of the way, I still would have been late every single day. The system has been improving, but it’s still not good enough for most people to live without their own personal car. It’s nobody’s fault, really, there just isn’t any money, and out here in the midwest, we’re really spread out. And that’s our problem, isn’t it? When Europeans first arrived in the so-called New World, they stuck pretty close to the East coast, but they did settle all up and down it. They would later venture to the farthest reaches of the continent. Our ancestors believed that if the land is there, you ought to be on it, and that sentiment remains today. That might have been okay back then, or at least it was the only way to do it with the technology of the day, but it’s no longer necessary.

In my story, The Advancement of Leona Matic, I mention people living in only a handful of megacities, most of which capitalize on the z-axis. The Northwest Forest circles, which allow some more rustic living, and the North Korean Isolate are the only exception to our descendants’ collective desire to tighten up. I came up with the first one because there will always be those who reject progress. I decided on the second one, because as optimistic as I am about the future, I can’t be certain the country will ever come around. Or rather, I can’t have much faith in its leadership. I’m hopeful, but not holding my breath. The rest of us will be living in a world without cars, which will be replaced by the real world analog to turbolifts, and other people-moving mechanisms. You’ll be able to get anywhere in a city of tens of millions in under fifteen minutes, and you’ll be able to fly on electric aircraft anywhere in the world in only a few hours. Until we have the means to create this dynamic, however, we need better solutions for the cities that exist today. Hyperloops are a great proposition that we should be investing in heavily. It took me seven years to find the job I have now. I spent the majority of the interim period unemployed, and part of that was because I was limited to the jobs I could get. My prospects might have doubled if I had access to a thirty-minute commute to St. Louis. We need to start looking for ways to come together, not spread out so much; not just for logistical reasons, but for the soul of the community. Without my car, I would probably still be living with my parents, and having to work a minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant within walking distance. Imagine how much better it would be, though, if I could travel the planet on a whim. Where would you go?

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