Friday, June 8, 2007

Transit Networks & Highwaymen

It seems these days that the folks from the Road cult are squealing pretty loud. I think they are afraid that they will be swept away by the transit space race. While that more than likely will never happen in my lifetime, one has to wonder what they are so worried about. They have after all most of the money for transportation going to roads. It seems to me like a little kid who just can't share his cookies. It's funny too when they cite choices, you can choose a car, or a car. It's your choice. Right?


The fundamental problem with this is that it's exactly what has caused congestion in the first place, letting everyone believe that they are free to have a piece of road at any time without any congestion. In fact some wish that it was in the constitution. Well where is the logic in that? If we look at nature and floods we see what happens when too much water wants to be all in one place. And so it should come as no surprise if everyone took geology or physical geography some time in high school that this would happen. Yet we keep building one mode of transportation. It's kind of like putting concrete at the bottom of a river to channel it. None of it seeps in to the ground just like cars magically get through traffic. And it seems to me that building all of these transitways for buses just encourages more cars. They might have 2 more people in the but its still a car. It's still VMT and pollution and sprawl.

But if you give people a choice they will take it. But it can't be a half cocked choice. Buses in freeway medians in Houston have shown that they only attract so many riders. I have a theory that it's because they travel in the middle of a freeway. Transit is a pedestrian oriented mode. Freeways are not pedestrian oriented. This is another reason why Houston's 5 transit ways garner about 43,000 riders a day while Portland's Max and Streetcar with 5 lines is over 100,000. Per day. It's why the San Diego Trolley is over 100,000 per day. Network and pedestrian orientation are what drives transit, and more freeways amplifies the inhumanities of single occupancy vehicles. 100,000 people in cars is no small amount of extra concrete for roads and parking spaces.

No one was meant to be that selfish every day of their lives. Yes you can be selfish sometimes. I know I am. I drive to my Gramma's house. She lives in the suburbs where the bus stops running at 3:30pm. It's 3 miles from the BART station and while sometimes I walk, some days i just don't have the extra 2 hours to spare (BART is lame in that they won't let bikes on rush hour trains). But everywhere else I walk or take transit whether it's a bus or a train. Tonight I went to concert by taking the J Church to the 45 Union Bus. Powered by alternative energy from Hydro, $1.50, no parking, no hassle. It's the power of networks and human scale quality transit which it seems some of the highway and HOV people miss.

I saw someone somewhere say that the Blue Line in Chicago which has 12 trains per hour could be replaced with an hov lane and 100 buses per hour and this would be revolutionary. I'm not sure what that person was smoking, but it must be bad stuff.

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