Today the boy and I went on a little outing to the bookstore. I was in the mood for some serious escapism in the form of classic Mr. King and Mr. Kellerman. Sometimes after reading a slave narrative or the life of Medgar Evers you just need something a lot less heavy. My son, a hardcore Star Wars nerd in training picked up a book about a young alien Jedi apprentice and her soon-to-be evil master. (Clearly I need to make sure he knows how to fight, and soon.)

On the way there we rode in a new, cleanish bus that only kind of smelled funny. Pretty much what I should expect for the $81 a month I currently pay for an unlimited pass. On the way home it was a different story (see picture). What is that? I’ve been on buses in several states and a couple of countries and I have never seen anything like this. Oddly I’m used to it. Today is hardly the first time I’ve been on a bus in my neighborhood that was in this condition, or worse. You may not be able to see the goop on the back of the chair or the other seat, but I sure did.

Now there is talk of the monthly fare going up to over $100 because of a ginormous deficit at the MTA. And along with the higher fare there will be cuts in service. That seems a little nuts when working people, and people looking for work, are subjected to these types of conditions when commuting. I’d bet that the more affluent parts of my city haven’t seen this kind of blight on a bus since the 70s, but this post isn’t about institutionalized racism and overt classism, though it could be. It’s about the fundamental wrongness of raising fares in a robust transit system as long as buses that look like the above photo are still in operation.

The rumor is that the MTA in NYC is getting a bailout from the state government and that we may avoid the crazy fare increase. I hope that’s true. I’m not holding my breath though because one of the options the powers-that-be have been floating around in place of the transit fare hike is putting a toll on the free bridge that my family takes to get the boy to school in the morning. It’s like we’re being punished for not living in Manhattan. I thank heavens that I have a job.