Friday, October 3, 2008

The Double Standard

Ryan makes a good point about the double standard that exists for freeways and transit. When you build freeways with excess capacity, it's generally called an investment. When we build transit with excess capacity for the future its deemed a waste and not worth the cost. In this respect, sometimes I feel as if the cost effectiveness index is like a handicap. Its supposed to make sure we're spending money wisely, but sometimes it's just holding back investment that would make real change.
The point that highways are built speculatively all the time while transit is not is a very good one, and one which never fails to get my goat. But I think it’s worth emphasizing that speculative transit isn’t really about building lines into the wilderness. It’s about building lines into places people already live in order to take better advantage of valuable land there.


Loren said...

I've seen that sort of comment about SF Muni's Third Street light-rail line, that it goes to rather run-down areas.

But it's intended for making a lot of southeastern-SF areas more conveniently accessible, so as to stimulate development. Something like what's been happening on the south-of-Market Embarcadero with its new-looking housing.

Adron said...

I'd actually say about 90%+ of our Interstate system is a complete waste. It is underutilized, very costly, unmaintainable, and seriously - when have you ever seen Interstate in most of Utah, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, and many other states effectively utilized?

The only Interstates that are effectively utilized at peak on a regaular basis are ones that are close to cities, and especially close to cities that have corridors and are located within 300 miles of each other.

The rest of these are almost complete and utter wastes. A two lane, or single track road would have done just fine to connect these points, but as usual, our infinitely wise Government decided for us that we needed a military road system that could handle airplanes and tanks...

...except we've NEVER used it for that THANK GOODNESS.

But now we're stuck trying to figure out how to upkeep the massive expanse of a road system with no verified, and oft argued nullable ROI.

...A SINGLE track could have sufficed perfectly well.

...oh well, maybe we'll get it fixed in the next 50 years?