Whenever I read about another fatal crossover collision I remember giving the eulogy for Morgan Hill’s Janet Graham at her church. The San Benito County Health Nurse was killed in one of these on Hwy. 25 before COG “leaders” decided to install center dividers. 

I remember Gilroy Mayor, VTA-Chair Don Gage telling me that after a carload of teenagers was killed in one of these type of crashes in Gilroy on US 101 before center dividers that while VTA did not have enough money to install center dividers, they did put more than $40 million into their pensions from that year’s appropriations. 

Like its big insolvent “mobility partner” to the north, COG also lacked sufficient funds to install center dividers on heavily traveled highways like Highway 25. Some local editors actually published some of my letters about this phenomenon. While I was axed by SBCBOS & COG’s then-Chair for “harassing” my fellow Task Force members, it didn’t give me much pleasure to be offed. 

After all, I was called a “safety Nazi” at a Transportation Law Institute of the TLA in Washington, D.C., by the then-general counsel of the ATA. 

I recited John Donne’s poem that includes, “never send to know for whom the bell tolls—it tolls for thee” at Janet’s funeral. 

Before Hon. Brad Pike got up his famous Safe on 25 Committee, Janet had sent me to COG to ask them to make Hwy 25 a “safety corridor.” I was on the SBC Safe Kids Coalition with her at the time. I did. I asked. I begged, but the then COG Directors only stared—“like deer in the headlights.” They took no action. And, ironically, later Janet was killed. 

Kick myself for not being a better advocate. Maybe she’d still be alive if I had been at deaf-blind-& dumb COG. 

But in making priorities, government often (not just around these parts) waits for the body count to reach the tipping point. After all, we’ve got to keep those empty bus seats moving. Got to have those empty buses rolling on our streets. Shafting taxpayers with bankrupt boondoggles like County Transit is a worthy goal as long as those empty bus seats get around town. Screw the taxpayers. 

San Benito County is not alone in this. But, I always hoped that SBC could be smarter than their sister counties. Guess I’ve been wrong about that. All these years. 

But ask yourselves: What if we made traffic safety our #1 top priority? What if we said that bus riders can call Uber? I hear that people illegally crossing the border do it. So, how much money could we spend on a more worthy priority (e.g., highway safety) if we tanked public sector bankrupt-from-conception transit? 

Well, I guess the tipping point has not been reached yet. Right? Until then, our #1 top priority is Emperor Transit First. Caveat Viator. (L. “Let the traveler beware.”) 

PS: You know what I want to see as your New Year’s resolution? 

Joseph Thompson 

Charter Member, SBCCOG Citizens Transit Task Force

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