WUOMFM

Auchter's Art: Public transportation is all around you

Aug 19, 2016

There is nothing quite as annoying as the overenthusiastic zeal that comes with the recently discovered — especially when it has been commonly known and readily accessible for years and years.

So I apologize in advance, but, OHMYGOSH, YOU GUYS! HAVE YOU SEEN THE SOO LOCKS?! THEY ARE AWESOMINGLY AMAZING!!! 

Last month, I finally made my first visit to Sault Ste. Marie to see the Soo Locks.

You just can't fit the scale of a freighter being transferred from one Great Lake to another in your head until you actually see it. It's absolutely magnificent. And the tour is even better. A ferry takes you through the locks — up from the American side and down on the Canadian.

It was all so very impressive, but there was one fact that made a particular impression on me. It's free.

That's right, free. I had no idea.

All of us taxpayers foot the bill.

Whether you're a freighter fully laden with taconite and heading for the steel mills or a pleasure boat on your way to Pictured Rocks, you pay nothing. All of us taxpayers foot the bill.

And it makes a lot of sense. For the sake of commerce and industry, to promote transportation, to eliminate overhead costs of collecting fees, it's free to the actual users.

Look, it's no secret that traditional public transportation is lacking in Michigan, especially Metro Detroit. And I'm not trying to make a direct parallel between a commuter bus/light-rail system and the Soo Locks.

But I am saying that they share a common benefit: they are good for business.

Yes, it takes some capital investment, but there can be a much greater return on that value. And isn't that how business is supposed to work? We have underfunded our roads for years, and see where that has gotten us.

John Auchter is an editorial cartoonist. Views expressed in his cartoons are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.