Monday, June 9, 2008

Faith Community for Public Transportation

I have attended several meetings recently of a group that has come to call itself Faith Community for Public Transportation. This is a growing group of ministry leaders in Alamance County who are looking for ways to work together to bring affordable public transportation to Alamance County. In the coming months I will probably devote several blog entries to this topic, starting with this one. I thought I might share some of the reasons why this group believes that affordable public transportation is necessary in Alamance County.

1) Socio-economic justice.
17% of Alamance County is living at or below the poverty line, and that number could be low. Many of these folks do not have ready access to a car, a luxury many of us take for granted. Because of this, it is difficult for them to get to job interviews and to work daily. The Alamance Rides program costs $8 one way, which means $16 round trip. For folks who are living on the edge financially, that is too steep a price to pay. A good public transportation system could provide easier access to jobs for those who need those jobs the most.

2) Faithful care of the elderly.
Most of the elderly in our community live on fixed income. However, most of their costs are not fixed. Between the rising costs of healthcare and medication and the rising costs of fuel and food, more and more senior adults are finding their finite resources pinched. A good public transportation system could provide a great aid to an ever-growing senior adult population.

3) Environmental issues.
Regular use of public transportation could decrease the number of cars on the road. Concerns about the ozone and global warming often cite an overabundance of cars as one of the primary factors.

4) Dependence on Oil.
In this day and age of fast rising gas prices, we are reminded of how dependent we have gotten on other countries for our oil. Perhaps a well-run public transportation could reduce our demand for foreign oil, and thus help reduce our obligations to outside interests.

5) The Middle Class.
All of these issues are becoming concerns not only for a few or a select group. More and more of the "middle class" are being pinched by and growing concerned about all of these issues and are looking for alternatives. A good public transportation system could be just such an alternative.

6) The Effect on Local Ministries.
Churches and other local ministries are affected by rising gas prices and limited access to transportation. How can a family needing food get to the local food pantry without a car? Some of these types of ministries offer delivery options, but even those options could be cut back or done away with because of rising fuel costs. Several churches are already discussing cutting back on ministry programs because of a concern that their members will have to reduce their activities to compensate for rising fuel costs. An affordable public transportation system could be a tool to allow many ministries to continue to meet the needs of people in our county.

I just wanted to introduce some of these concepts. Look for future posts that explore these ideas in further detail.

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