They should ask ME about DoT reforms!

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Gov. Warner ran in 2002 on a ticket promising a) he would not raise taxes, and b) he would revamp the DoT. He kinda revamped the D0T (anyone been to the DMV lately? At least the lines aren’t as long after the nifty (and expensive) new automated system was installed, even if the regulations are still asinine), but he did raise taxes to do it, albeit regionally. (NoVA and Hampton Roads got the bend-over on that one. Thanks, guys!)

Well, I am the DoT in this family, and I am in need of revamping. I think I’ll raise taxes to fund it. What would be appropriate? Can I regionally tax Richmond? Hmmm…

Actually, I don’t need a revamp, I need a doppelganger. See, Youngest Son and Middle Son are in a summer program through their elementary school, but Eldest Son needs to go to a different school for his accelerated math class (he wants to take algebra in the sixth grade), and there’s no transportation either to or from. As his class lets out at 12:30 and is all the way ‘cross town, this is an issue for me. I work, and Hubby is gone most weeks on business. If I didn’t have a cool boss, being gone over an hour in the middle of the day to haul a child around could be an employment deal-breaker.

Oddly enough, the Hubby had a half hour phone survey from the DoT last night on public transportation. The gist of it was: with today’s greener environmental attitude, would you use public transportation? His response was (I’m paraphrasing), “Of course we’d use it if the system didn’t suck.” We actually sat down at the GRTC website and tried to find a reasonable way to make use of pub transpo. No can do.

My point (because I did have one) is this: what are all the other parents doing? In an urban area with no reliable public transpo unless you live in the not-great-for-child-rearing parts of town, what would a single mom do? What would a family with one vehicle do? Hubby and I have had to be a one-vehicle family a few times for various reasons, and it’s horrible trying to negotiate schedules and still have any family time other than telling the kids to stop fighting in the back seat. How does a single parent, or a parent who can’t afford the (oh my god you really charge that much?!) cost of childcare manage?

Add to that the completely ridiculous policies of the DMV, and the exorbitant fines and penalties they place on the simplest of infractions (ever put off getting your inspection or registration renewal til the last minute?), and how is it that we can even afford to drive? Add to that insurance, gas, and vehicle maintenance, and I honestly don’t see how lower middle-class families manage. I really don’t. I don’t have a head for that kind of stuff, and tend to ignore it hoping it will go away – a personality quirk that has gotten me into trouble many times. But I’m not a stupid person, and can understand basic instructions (even if I don’t follow them), and I have a hard time understanding exactly what the DMV expects of us, not to mention the entire DoT. And in VA, we now have civil penalties to deal with on top of fines. Don’t get me started.

Hubby has said that he’s going to launch a campaign in which he calls the DMV every day to ask, “Is everything OK? Is my paperwork in order? Any screw-ups I should know about?” If all’s in order, he’ll say, “OK, talk to ya’ tomorrow!” I think that’s a capital idea.

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