by Michael R. Allen
This week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch carried a commentary by NiNi Harris entitled “County residents should vote own interests”. Harris makes the case for St. Louis County voters’ approving the sales tax measure for Metro that will appear on the April 6 ballot.
Instead of the usual — and correct — arguments in favor of mass transit as something the region needs to have to be competitive and maintain an urban quality of life, Harris demonstrates that the sales tax measure will help St. Louis County maintain its quality of life. The services that county voters take for granted are dependent on workers’ being able to easily get to jobs in the county. For many workers, that means catching the bus.
Voters might not consider the fact that even health care costs are associated with the availability of public transportation:
The quality of hospital care is not only determined by the physicians and registered nurses, but also by the LPNs, the people who do the laundry and cleaning and food service staffs. The quality of overall care can be maintained without mass transit only by increasing wages or providing other transportation.
After all, according to Harris:
It’s not just a few workers about whom we are talking. Last year, Metro buses, MetroLink and the Metro service for the disabled provided rides for almost 53 million boarders.
Can the county maintain its quality of life with diminished Metro service? Absolutely not.