I Think I Mighta Got Played

james robertson walking man

The Detroit Free Press has always been the more liberal of the two major daily newspapers in Detroit, although The Detroit News isn’t exactly what you’d call a bastion of conservative editorial opinion either.

While I marvel at the determination of James Robertson, the man who has been walking a 21-mile round trip to and from work each day, as many others obviously do considering the $310,000 raised by a crowd-funding effort on his behalf, I’m starting to think we’re all useful idiots in a broader scheme to revitalize a shrunken metropolitan transit system.   (Nice sentence Arjay, that was sweet!)   <grin>

The voters in Metro Detroit have obviously spoken on their unwillingness to pay for such a system and I’m reminded of the following.

When I used to walk from my parking area in Grand Rapids up to 50 Monroe, a quarter-mile or longer walk, I would see the city buses traveling their routes.  When it was dark you could see into the buses, these large, gas-guzzling, planet-killing, ozone-depleting buses – with one or two people on them.  To me that seems like a pretty expensive taxi service.

Below is the main search results page for “James Robertson” and below that several of the op-ed pieces on how Metro Detroit needs to fix its ailing transit system.  “Thanks for that moving story James, but we here at the Free Press have some bigger fish to fry.”

I’m really glad James got his car, but with the bloated expense of systems like The Rapid in GR and the SMART system in Detroit, it might be better to buy the riders inexpensive cars than to maintain a very costly and quite ineffective bus system.  Public transportation is very similar to other things public, like public radio and public schools.

It will be very interesting to see where the remainder of the money goes.  Evidently a board is being set up to manage this donated cash.  Thanks to a Sterling Heights Ford dealer James has his car, but if the donations are going to be used for other purposes now, the crowdfunders need to be given the option of having their money returned if they disagree with its use.

I’d use the money to send James on a speaking tour at Detroit high schools where he could describe his work ethic and determination to young people.  That might be the best use of the funds if those who donated would agree to it.

Detroit Free Press Search Results for “James Robertson”, the “Walking Man”
http://www.freep.com/search/james%20robertson/

Awful Transit Policy Fails Everyone in Metro Detroit
http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/stephen-henderson/2015/02/02/henderson-robertson/22721409/

How Can We Start To Fix Our Transit Mess
http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/02/06/bus-transit-metro-detroit/23016033/

Metro Detroit Needs a Transit Revolution
http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/02/04/transit-fixes-metro-detroit/22874021/

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