The Upside of the Downside of the Meltdown


By Sarah Phelan
My morning commute from the East Bay was exactly the same as it was before the MacArthur Maze meltdown. But then, I was traveling to San Francisco on a ferry.
My friendly ferry crew predict that ridership will jump, once people experience the living hell of thousands of drivers trying to find an alternative to an overpass that now looks like a strip of toffee that’s been left out in the sun--a meltdown that has put the connector linking westbound I-80 and southbound I-880 out of commission, as well as the elevated roadway that carried eastbound traffic from the Bay Bridge onto I-580.
They also might get religious about riding the ferry, or the Transbay Express or BART, once they also realize that all public transit is free, at least for now.
The Loma Prieta earthquake and the collapse of the Bay Bridge was what got ferry service between the East Bay and San Francisco started in 1989. Maybe now, a tanker overturning and the melting of an overpass can get people to do what they outta be doing anyways, in the face of climate change: take public transit. Added bonus: if you're lucky enough to take the ferry you can shout "Adios suckers!" as you glide to and fro beneath the Bay Bridge climate-changing commute.
Double added bonus: maybe this meltdown will get people talking about making public transit permanently free. Right now, commuting to SF by ferry costs $4.00 one way, if you buy 20 tickets, or $5.50 if you buy one.
Commuting by BART costs $2.75 one way, while driving the Bridge costs $4.00 (the toll from Oakland to SF) plus the cost of gas and wear and tear in car to the driver, plus the cost of air quality and wear and tear on the road (including the cost of a possible meltdown when a tanker explodes!) to the Bay Area, plus the cost of climate change to planet Earth.
Can we really "afford" to keep on driving and screw up conditions on the third rock from the Sun?