Friday, May 21 Gas and Oil, Toll and Trouble.


Snow is predicted today on the higher elevations of the bay area. Who says’s there’s no climate changing going on? A cold but mercifully brief wait for a great ride in a VW Passant. Very pretty woman driving with a wonderfully rich and melodic latina accent. She turns on the heater that warms the seats and it is wonderful. Ahh. We discuss the weather and agree that the planet is definitely undergoing a major shift. And now it looks like the Gulf oil spill may become an international incident as well, with the oil spreading to waters around the globe.

The rider in the back seat falls asleep as we continue to chat about the soon-to-be toll charge for casual carpool. The driver asks me, “Will you object to paying the driver $1.25?” I give my usual spiel – no of course not. It is not the drivers fault that the only simple minded solution to the over-runs on the bridge and freeway repairs is to raise the toll. And to put at risk a beautiful commute solution known as Casual Carpool.

I ask her if she will let riders ride if they do not pay, and she emphatically says “NO! it is not worth it to me to pick up people if I have to pay gas and parking plus the toll. If they do not want to pay, they cannot ride with me”. We agree this is going to be hard on the casual carpool. In today’s setting of environmental desperation where we need to get rid of our gas-guzzling cars (or at least use them less), and use more public and shared transportation, why, why cannot toll authorities, public transportation officials and our elected representatives see that we need to make a drastic departure from the way we are doing this. We’ve got to stop relying on the oil that has cost countless lives and misery in the Middle East, pollutes every breath we take, and now is destroying our oceans. Eventually, of course, the oil will run out and we’ll have no choice.

The lovely driver says, “In other countries, people protest, complain, make noise, but here we are quiet, until it is too late.”

I consider what she’s said. It’s true – not enough of us attend public meetings, sign petitions, join protest groups, write to our representatives. Maybe we’re just too tired from commuting.

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