Recently many cities have gone to great lengths to try to second guess what the FTA is thinking. No one knows what they are thinking and some think they are crazy but I think American's are lazy. Lazy meaning they don't want to make the real investment in rail and want to do things on the cheap.
The reason why i think they are lazy is because they want instant results. 'Give it to me now' they say. Well here's the deal. The only satisfying way to get what you want is to work hard and achieve the result through that hard work and sacrifice. This is something i learned when i ran in college. You put in the miles upon miles and you get the results. You sleep all day and watch tv and play video games...you're not going to run under 4 minutes for a mile.
With all that being said my 80 miles a week in college was an investment, an investment in my future running. This also relates in a strange way to transit. Why do people think that BRT is a good idea? Cost Effective means 'yeah we know it sucks but we're gonna invest a dollar in our future rather than 5'. That is lazy. That is the I want it now attitude. It has been proven that people don't ride buses like rail. So why are we investing in inferior infrastructure? Is it because Grover Norquist wants to drown our government in a pool? Yes, partially because hacks like Wendell Cox, Ken Orski and Alan Pisarski have the ears of people that make transportation decisions, especially in places like Georgia.
I'm all for being 'cost effective' when it comes to building a transit system for what its worth and not gold plating it. But when it comes to an investment in the future, lets build a real transportation system that has rail, and not just the same ole buses that no one rides.
The reason why i'm writing this is because today in the Twin Cities a consultant said that the Cedar Avenue BRT project was more 'Cost Effective' than rail and that the corridor didn't have the densities to support the investment. Well it's a two way street buddy. If it doesn't have it now, and you change the zoning it will have it later. Bus won't change your land use. So in these schemes where transit officials hope that they get BRT to LRT, I'd say that they are going to have BRT for the rest of their lives. Bus doesn't build density, therefor doesn't grow ridership...simple before and after.
It probably doesn't help that BRT is pushed by the Oil and Auto Industries. This helps their cause for more freeways and wars and they know it. If they really wanted a cost effective way of doing things, they would have used all the money for the Iraq War on transportation...but thats for another post.