Watch and learn:
See that near-empty bus as you’re stuck in traffic?
More of you motorists getting in my roadway should get into those available CARTA seats.
Yes, this aging Toyota Corolla driver wants thee, not me, to ride the bus. Like so many other folks, motivation is lacking for me to get out from behind the wheel and get on with an overdue personal shift into mass-transit gear. But as the ranks of Charleston drivers keep escalating, bumper-to-bumper aggravation also rises.
For instance, my morning commute shortcut on Mathis Ferry Road took much longer than usual on Friday.
And last Sunday, my excursion to and from the Isle of Palms also was severely slowed by an ominously high traffic level for the times of day and year (3 p.m.-5 p.m., late April).
A Tuesday letter to the editor even reported that on that same day, “beachbound traffic [to Sullivan’s Island] was at a standstill all the way to Shem Creek, preventing some residents from leaving their neighborhoods.”
Hey, our local human herd has considerably swelled over the last few decades — in part because lots of our species members like being so close to the Atlantic Ocean.
Still, when an excess of our kind think life’s a beach, traffic can be a, er, problem — and not just while going back and forth from sandy shores.
Can we handle more motor vehicles with more lanes?
Well, sure — for a while.
Then again, with apologies to “Field of Dreams” script writer Phil Alden Robinson and that overrated 1989 film’s fans: If you build more roads, more motor vehicles will come.
And if we don’t raise the state gas tax, now among the nation’s lowest after more than a quarter century without a boost, how can we build more roads — or even just fix the ones we already have?
The S.C. Senate voted Thursday, by a 26-19 margin, against giving desperately needed road and bridge funding priority budget status.
Meanwhile, Gov. Nikki Haley still insists that she won’t go for a gas-tax hike without an accompanying state income tax cut from the current 7 percent to 5 percent. And the Legislature won’t go for that.
Never mind that, as business titans warn, South Carolina’s ability to attract — and keep — major manufacturers is undermined by the extended neglect of our highway system.
Sure, we right-wingers are rightly wary of pitches for higher taxes for any purpose.
Yet what’s conservative about letting road quality degenerate to the point that it threatens not just timely arrivals and lives but free-market prosperity?
You don’t have to be a tax-and-spend liberal to know that government must serve some indispensable functions — including building (and maintaining) infrastructure for safe, efficient transportation.
Public education is another crucial government duty.
No, we shouldn’t reflexively accept the commercial property tax increase being considered by the Charleston County School District.
However, we shouldn’t reject it on a knee-jerk basis, either. Anyway, owner-occupied homes in this state are exempt (but should they be?) from school-operating taxes.
And we shouldn’t buy this selfish, stale, stupid argument: “My children are grown. Why should I have to pay school taxes?”
Here’s why: We live in the same community with local public school kids.
That makes them, in not just a moral but a practical sense, our kids, too.
On the roads again:
An informal Friday survey in a Charleston workplace (business and names withheld to protect both innocent and guilty) revealed that hardly any of its employees ride the bus.
Yet a growing number of them bike to their jobs — and elsewhere. And while people-powered two-wheelers can present irritating obstacles on already-crowded local byways, they take up less room than motor vehicles.
So as the vicious traffic cycle driven by rising population persists, try not to have a vicious attitude about bicyclists.
Finally, ponder this watch-and-learn lesson of my own.
Two forays downtown (one on March 31, the other on April 3) in amateur tour guide guise revealed a new, improved way of getting there. Though traffic congestion frustration didn’t totally spoil the first outing to show visiting friends local sights, it did detract from the below-Market ambiance.
Three days later, my first cruise on the Charleston Water Taxi, from the Harbor Resort and Marina in Mount Pleasant to the Waterfront Park, was a much more relaxing ride to the Holy City’s street-strolling charms. The Water Taxi also stops and starts at Patriots Point and the Aquarium Wharf/Maritime Center.
See, life’s not just a beach.
It’s also a boat.
And if you can’t go by sea, please, get out of my car’s way by getting on a bus.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.