No question about it, James Robertson is exceptional. The 56-year-old Detroit area resident walks an average of 21 miles every day to get to and from his job at a nearby factory, where he makes $10.55 an hour. He’s been doing this for about a decade, ever since his last car broke down. He is able to take a bus part of the way, but there’s no bus service along a good chunk of his commute. Residents there have voted against funding the local suburban transit system, SMART.

Robertson’s story, first reported by Bill Laitner in the Detroit Free Press, is surely an inspirational one, a tale of the triumph of individual will over enormous obstacles. As such, it has attracted a lot of attention. A GoFundMe page set up to raise funds that would allow him to buy a car quickly exceeded its initial goal of $5,000, soaring over $50,000 in just one day.

That is great news for James Robertson. It doesn’t do anything, however, to address the underlying inefficiencies and inadequacies that have led to him spending at least 20 hours each week getting to and from his job. Read More