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City Transit Commuters: A Modest Assessment

3:30 PM EDT on June 14, 2007

Given some of the unfathomable declarations floated in the name of opposition to congestion pricing ("We have to do something about the pedestrians"), it's hard not to wonder what goes on in the minds of those who so passionately reject any perceived infringement upon their "right" to clog the streets and poison the air for "free."

Enter one Ken Klinger, whose recent letter to the Queens Gazette features probably the most generalized and bigoted characterization of New York City transit riders this side of John Rocker -- pablum so awesomely over the top, you've almost got to wonder if it's satire:

Next, there's the commuters themselves, who make bus and subway ridesadditionally unbearable by yelling into their cell phones or crankingup the volume on their iPods so high that you feel like you've got onheadphones too.

Commuters' manners are typically atrocious too. They cough withoutcovering their mouths, wipe their runny noses on their hands andsleeves, and engage in a whole bunch of disgusting habits like pickingsnot from their noses, wax from their ears, and dandruff from theirscalps, and then holding up and examining the nasty stuff, especiallyif you happen to look their way for a moment.

For it almost seems as if commuters engage in these stomach-sickeningbehaviors as a means of getting nearby commuters not to look at them,in order to maintain a level of privacy, as I've begun to suspect,partially in an effort to explain how they could possibly behave sodisgustingly, on average, without exhibiting any shame.

The author, who calls mass transit "the most miserable and unpleasant mode of transportation on Earth, outside of being shot out of a cannon," continues:

Contrast this hellish environment to the comforts of commuting in acar, with cushy seats, either by oneself or in company with an equallycivilized and reasonably sane passenger or two. Sure, there areannoyances, too, associated with driving autos, like traffic jams andradio DJs who never play any music, insisting on hogging the airwaveswith their high-strung, bigoted rants instead. Still, all thingsconsidered, traveling into Manhattan by car is infinitely superior togoing by mass transit, and will continue to be so even when congestionpricing goes into effect, as it most likely will.

What do you think? Is Ken Klinger for real? Or did the Queens Gazette -- and Streetsblog -- get taken for a ride? 

Thanks to reader "d" for the Onion link. 

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