Sunday, April 5, 2009

East vs. West

East vs. West

I recently returned from New York City and after getting over my intense appreciation for thecity found myself doing an eco-comparison of East vs. West. The first observation, which is really quite obvious, is that East Coast folk are big on mass transit. How could they not?! No parking and tons of traffic have made mass transit a way of life. It simply becomes part of the equation in getting from point A to point B. After doing my share of BART riding (Bay Area Rapid Transit - for those outer bay area folk) I actually found the NY subways to be quite... clean! I have heard stories of rats mocking the riders but was fortunate enough to have missed such performances. The cabs, on the otherhand, are a whole other story. They are a hit or miss experience. One might have the pungent smell of gasoline being driven by a foreigner with limited language skills while another could potentially be a hybrid driving, recently demoralized, Madoff feeder fund broker.

Two years ago Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a green transportation effort by requiring the city to turn its fleet of yellow, gas consuming taxis into hybrid, earth loving fares. That has since been overturned by a judge who deemed the proposal as violating federal law. Whatever! Federal Law, schmederal law. Good for you Bloomberg for trying to turn the page. Councilman David Yassky says that "with our child asthma rate more than twice the national average, it is our kids who will suffer from dirtier air, and New Yorkers should be upset with that outcome." Yassky is committed to seeing the hybrid taxi legislation through and intends to work with the Mayor and the federal representatives to put New York on a greener path.

So, what is San Francisco doing, I wondered? It turns out that Mayor Gavin Newsom is working toward greening the city, but it just doesn't seem to have the same flair and extravagance as New York's plan. Fair enough. New York is a more extravagant city. And besides, the west coast is probably a tad bit greener anyway so New York has to catch up with us, right? Anyhoo, last year Newsom unveiled several, or at least three, converted electric city vehicles that will be used by city departments in hopes of bringing attention to the technology while raising awareness. "I think this is where change occurs, on a local level," Newsom said. Perfect. Great. I do actually agree with Mr. Perfect Hair, but the price tag on those cars is approximately $60k. Very few San Franciscans recently affected by our currently crappy economy will want to throw $60,000 on a consumer reports gamble of a car. It seems that it might be a better solution to follow Mr. Bloomberg's intentions by requiring greener cabs and buses. Just a thought. Maybe when I'm Mayor of SF I can propose Prius cabs, Biodiesal buses, and peace loving orgies in the streets. Kidding! I'm far too conservative for the latter, but still. It's a thought.

I guess the end result of this rant is that there are pros and cons that exist on each coast. We can certainly learn from each other and take the best that we each have to offer. As far as I'm concerned, East Coast. West Coast. You can't go wrong. But there's a long way to go for us both to be right. (but not in the political sense!)

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