Monday, December 4, 2006

New transit is only half the solution

The Neal Peirce article on December 3, 2006 needs a few comments made about it.

First, he mentions the passing of the Kansas City, MO LRT ballot measure as a positive step. While he does mention the many times this measure has failed, he didn't mention that this time there was much confusion and information on the ballot measure was scattered about and there was no single place that one could easily find out what it was all about. Many in Kansas City now realized what they voted for and aren't real happy about it.

What I came away with from reading the article was that as far as transit goes was the typical Liberal argument of "let's spend more taxpayer money on expensive LRT lines and all will be fixed".

There were some things I agree with in his article, such as eliminating the required parking rules that many cities have, other of his suggestions are a bit troublesome. Primarily of which is transit oriented development (TOD).

TOD is good in theory but in practice is rather doomed to failure. Remember "Urban Renewal" from the 1960's? Urban Renewal was the same thing as TOD is today, exactly the same. Most cities that went through urban renewal in the 60's are ghost towns today.

TOD proponents have a fatal flaw in their vision. They assume that everyone wants to live in urban settings. That urban sprawl only happened because of the easy availability of the automobile. That if government spends enough money, everyone will flock back to the cities.

All are false. Urban sprawl was made easier by the automobile but the people that moved out to the suburbs wanted out of the urban lifestyle. Crime, noise, pollution, higher taxes and other urban ills are what pushed many out into the suburbs to start with. TOD's are not going to eliminate any of these things and in fact will make many things worse.

Getting back to transit to finish this up, what needs to be done is for public transit to get back to the basics of providing service. Expensive transit projects, TOD's and other government funded methods will not work to improve anything until public transit goes back to the basics.

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