All right, class, take your seats, please. It’s time to go over your assignments for the next few days, which means you can work on things over the weekend.
We have for you a number of reading assignments, each of which should broaden your grasp of the complexities of modern day civic life, and perhaps furnish a few laughs as well.
Let’s start with this one: http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=9664#comments
In it, you’ll find straightforward thoughts like this:
1. Transportation spending can stimulate economic development only if it generates new travel that didn’t exist before. Transportation projects that merely persuade people to change from one mode to another or one corridor to another might influence where economic development takes place, but will not (our edit) produce any net additional development.
If you’re adventurous, with a thirst for knowledge, you’ll find links to various other sources that should grab your interest.
Now how about this one, about “understanding planner speak:” http://ti.org/FS6.html
We found it to be a bundle of laughs, perfectly attuned to the unique personality of our funny bone; so much so, we wonder if it wasn’t written by a long lost cousin. While it clearly stems from a long term discussion taking place in Portland Left, the sentiments are widely relevant. Like these:
Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality Fund: a federal fund of $1 billion per year used to increase congestion and reduce air quality. Mass Transit: transportation that doesn't go when or where you need it, is useless for shopping, often requires standing in the rain, and is much slower than driving yourself.
Besides, if you engage in a little reflection, you may well conclude that Portland Left tries to insert itself in Cape Brunswick affairs now and again.
Moving on, let’s take this one: http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2014/10/phoenix-light-rail-update-we-spent-1-4billion-to-reduce-transit-ridership.html
It provides a little hard data from the Phoenix area, something most members of the governing elite class despise. Be sure to read the comments following the brief material content, including this:
There is a good explanation for this. Because light rail is so much more expensive, the cost per rider for the entire transit system has skyrocketed. With budgets unable to be increased this fast (and with fares covering only a tiny percentage of rail costs), the system must cut back somewhere. Since rail can't really be cut back, bus routes are cut.
While published in 1998, we submit that the enduring realities of urban myth promulgation render the material entirely valid. On the other hand, now that we brush the sand from our eyes, we remember that NNEPRA was created in 1995. so the report was written after the operator of the Downeaster was established, by law.
From this item:
Public transit plays an important role in providing mobility to those without access to automobiles as well as those who prefer not to drive. Unfortunately, America’s public transit policies suffer from numerous myths that are harmful to both transit and to American cities. This report discusses ten of the most dangerous and widely believed transit myths:
The Subsidy Myth:
Transportation subsidies are unfairly biased towards autos and highways, so we must increase transit funding to provide balanced transportation.
At least since 1975, transit subsidies have been tens to hundreds of times greater than highway subsidies. Moreover, a quarter of the transit subsidies have been paid directly by auto drivers.
Sound transit policy requires that policymakers understand the reality behind these myths. Funds available for transit will always be limited. It is therefore incumbent on policymakers to invest these limited funds in ways that produce the greatest value for the taxpayer’ dollars.
Read that last line, and ask yourself if anyone can say, with a straight face, that policymakers are doing just that. Oh, and you can read the full report here, complete with detailed graphics, etc.
While we’re at it, we’ll remind you that the creation of NNEPRA and it’s Downeaster operation never, ever had anything to do with “value for taxpayer’ dollars.” NNEPRA was created by legislative edict, and not one aspect of what it is directed to do has anything to do with tradeoffs, economic rationale, or anything else of the sort.
It’s only charge is making passenger rail happen, and figuring out how to pay for it as they go along.
Because there’s no way to make it pay.
But they sure know how to make you pay, even though you don’t realize it.
One more thing; why not take a look here as well: http://americandreamcoalition.org/rail2005.html
You’ll find these words of introduction:
Rail Disasters 2005 (2.5MB) examines two decades worth of ridership data in nearly every U.S. urban area with rail transit and finds that ridership has declined or stagnated in nearly two out of three of them. Ridership or passenger miles travel have kept up with driving in only three out of twenty-three rail urban areas.
By contrast, the report identifies numerous urban areas with bus-only transit whose transit ridership has grown far faster than driving, including Austin, Las Vegas, and Raleigh-Durham. Based on this and other information, the report concludes that cities and regions that want to boost transit ridership are better off improving their bus systems than building expensive rail lines.
None of this matters, though, when you’re all about loving the choo-choo, and expect others to pay for your obsession.