I know election season is in full swing, with other local bloggers offering endorsements of the various propositions. I may do so before the election next Tuesday, but in the meantime I want to discuss something that has a more direct impact on my everyday life.
From time to time, I need to ride the Bart elevator to get from street level to the platform. In certain stations -- generally those without a mezzanine section -- this requires first entering into the paid zone and then getting on the elevator. Not so in stations such as those along Market Street in San Francisco.
In those stations, probably to save money, the elevator runs from the street level, to the mezzanine and straight through to the Bart platform. This means that someone who rather not pay to ride Bart can simply take the elevator.
I'm sure my readers know what's coming next. I sometimes encounter honest users of these elevators -- those who take the time to stop on the mezzanine level and run the Bart ticket through the reader before proceeding to the train. However, more often I get on the elevator to find someone riding straight to the platform level, obviously not intending to pay.
I'd say this happens more than 50 percent of the time I use the elevator on Bart. I've noticed a similar experience with Muni in San Francisco. Needless to say, a casual inspection of these criminals reveals common threads. Most are young males, and none of them appear either to notice or care that they're doing something wrong.
I've asked a few friends why they think these people are so oblivious to the clear criminality of their actions. The response I found most compelling was simply that they have nothing to fear from society.
What if they find a police officer waiting for them on the platform? Well, so what. They'll probably get a ticket which they'll then refuse to pay.
What if they then are arrested? Well, so what again. Maybe they'll spend a few days or weeks in jail.
To me, this behavior is an excellent indication of the Bay Area's need for stricter enforcement of day-to-day "quality of life" crimes. Not only do these criminals deprive Bart of revenue; they send an exteremely negative message to everyone else about what we are willing to tolerate.
Essentially what toleration of this behavior says to the average citizen is the typical liberal message: Everyone must abide by the rules except for certain classes of the "downtrodden," defined by economic circumstance or ethnic background. This then demoralizes those who follow the rules, and it attracts children who might be attracted to the anti-social lifestyle.
By the way, I've noticed a very strong Bart Police presence throughout the system. This is probably an overreaction to supposed terrorist considerations. But what a shame it is that no one can be bothered to make sure everyone plays by the most basic of rules -- paying your fare.