Last night my kids were in the living room playing a game – and every now and then and I would hear them shout “Transportation!” Even though they hear me talk about transportation all the time, I had never heard them use it with such enthusiasm.
My kids were playing a new game called the Fairytale Spinner game. Each player spins to be able to choose their setting, their characters, and their treasure. Then, once they’ve chosen all the required components, the players tell their story – which tends to end with the characters living “happily ever after.”
Since the theme is based on fairytales, the heroes are characters like Red Riding Hood and the villains are witches and ogres. Players also choose a magical friend like Puss in Boots and a magical item – like the goose that lays the golden egg. The goal of the game is to encourage storytelling using fictional characters. And my kids love it.
In the real world, my kids won’t get to choose a magical item to make their story better. But there is a choice that they make in the game that is real – and has a real impact on their life. Players must choose their mode of transportation. Granted, in the game, the transportation options are more along the lines of a goat cart rather than a TARC bus, but the impact is the same. Transportation provides the characters – and everyone in the real world – access. It is a part of the story – and nothing happens without it.
In the game transportation is a given. The players make a transportation selection and know that is what they will have. In the real world, we think of transportation in those same terms. We know, just in our Commonwealth, that we have more than 80,000 miles of roads and 14,000 bridges that connect us to work and to school and to health care. We know that we have airports and rail lines and waterways to move freight including the food we eat, the medicine we take, the clothes we wear, and the computers we use everyday. We know that we all have access to public transit no matter where we are in the state to move us where we need to go.
The fairytale we’ve created is that our transportation network will always be there, providing access to everything we need. We treat transportation as a given – just like the game my kids play.
The reality is that none of what we’ve built will be here if we don’t maintain what we have and make the improvements we need. And we can’t do those things without adequate funding. Since we know there is no goose laying golden eggs to pay for pothole patches and runway repairs, we have to find real solutions that will provide the revenue we need to maintain the transportation infrastructure we have now – and to build what we need for the future.
Our transportation network isn’t just a part of our story - it’s a major character – and without it – nothing happens. Our story needs some real heroes to find solutions to our problems so we all have the opportunity to live happily ever after.