Archive for Driving

MBTA Fair Fares Podcast

The MA legislature and recent governors have lacked vision, and still do on mass transit. They look for shortcuts, quick fixes and binary left-brained answers to questions that should demand deep analysis and keen insights.

Residents, particularly those in the Boston area, will get another fare hike of between 9 and 10%. It makes life harder on poorer citizens and solves absolutely none of the T’s troubles.

I talk a bit about the absurd and irrational debt service, about the shameful forward-funding scheme the legislature pile on the MBTA, and why they won’t even consider admitting they thoroughly blew it, much less try to fix it.

When these hikes are under discussion, a few of us call and yell and write and testify that they need to ask meaningful questions. The only one they seem to come up with is not meaningful, rather it is “How big a fare raise and we get?”

Honk. Wrong question.

My rant is has two sides. First and most obvious is fix the damn funding blunder, so the T can have cash flow for operations and maintenance. Harder but more important is asking what we want and expect from the T.

The answer is not the stupid one — on-time trains that are clean and safe. Those should be sine qua non. No, if we want mass transit to be affordable for getting all from where they live to where they work, if we want it to reduce vehicular traffic, noise, pollution and other congestion, we need to be willing to subsidize it like we do with cars and trucks.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation report on T funding is here.

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Death in Service to Bill Gates

one-man bandLet’s pledge to each other not to be foolish, not to let vanity and ego, well, kill each other on the streets.

Fact is that we’ve eagerly bought the shoddy goods of multitasking. As a species, humans are terrible at it. Start by watching wrecks and near wrecks as drivers using cell phones career at each other and slam on the brakes (usually in time). Less dangerous and more common and certainly amusing see pedestrians on sidewalks or indoors walking into each other or walls as they try to ambulate and talk or text into the smartphone. It’s good perhaps that the phone is smart if the users are not.

Doubters’ Resource. Start with the collection of data and studies from around the nation and world at the National Safety Council here.

I run down some stats — how dangerous using phones while driving is, and that hands-free use is no safer. I talk about why we were even introduced to the idea that we can, should and must multitask. Alas, unlike a PC, we can’t get a retrofit of more RAM and a faster CPU. We really are trying to switch sequential tasks instantly. Our brains can’t do it. Multitasking is at best an illusion and at worst a deluision.

I go into a little background of CEO/manager think that led to the multitasking mythology. Bill Gates? Yes, Microsoft has been a primary villain here, promoting its Office and other software with a fantasy that every employee is a multitasker and is robbing the company if she or he isn’t working on many duties at the same time all day and every day.

icon for podpress  Multitasking kills [25:27m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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