Cooler weather meant it was time to bring out Mr. Lloyd.
Named after my late grandfather, Mr. Lloyd is my old 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 and my personal expression of youthful nostalgia and mid-life crisis. I bought it three years ago, not long after my granddad passed away, to remember him through the model car he drove in my childhood.
Mr. Lloyd has a great heater but no air conditioning, so it's a little uncomfortable in the summer. It's perfectly suited for fall and spring, however, so the timing is good for the family minivan to be in the shop while Mr. Lloyd is available as a comfortable backup.
Now, I understand what a luxury it is to have not just a car, but to have an extra vehicle when one is being repaired. And I certainly realize that there are folks who don't have a car at all, and have to rely on other forms of transportation.
But I'm not too thrilled with Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross' suggestion to find ways to bring more of Augusta Public Transit's riders further into Columbia County. The system currently brings passengers to West Town; Cross wants them brought to Mullins Crossing and to the Evans Wal-Mart.
Anecdotes aren't very useful in forming policies, but they certainly help us develop personal opinions. Among other things, my bus-passenger opinion is shaped by the theft of an in-law's car several years ago.
He was having lunch at a West Town restaurant. When it came time to leave, he found just a scattering of broken glass in the parking lot where his car used to be.
Augusta police found his Pontiac a few days later - ransacked, but in better-than-expected condition - at a rundown Augusta apartment complex. It turns out the thief had simply taken a bus to West Town and then stole a convenient car for the return trip home.
Really, how much shopping do we expect public-transit bus-riders to do? How much shop-lifting?
If we could guarantee only senior citizen riders, we'd have little to worry about. But what about the thugs who'd love to make Columbia County their bountiful hunting ground?
Look, God bless the new owners of Augusta Mall. Their vision for revamping the tired facility is remarkable. But no matter how much they spiff up and polish the mall, they certainly aren't counting on the spending power of public transit riders to keep it making money.
Adding insult to injury, some of those riders cost the mall more than they bring in when retailers have to hire guards and police to keep an eye on the punks who gather in roving bands and scare away better-behaved people who'd otherwise spend money there.
Ron Cross is an avid old-car collector, and I'm sure he also understands that not everyone is blessed with ownership of just one vehicle, much less a whole garage full.
Still, such ownership also means paying a lot of taxes; a plan to expand Augusta's subsidized bus service could cost tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayers, and that money would never be recouped from the taxable spending of people who can't even afford one car - especially when a substantial number of those people also are likely to cost us even more in police protection.
Besides, somehow I doubt that providing transportation to a shopping center qualifies as a legitimate public purpose.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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