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7526Re: PRT anti-transit Disinformation

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  • Karen Sandness
    Jul 17, 2004
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      It's hard to convince people of the advantages of transit if they've
      never experienced a good system. Heavens, living in Minneapolis, trying
      to use non-automotive means of transportation as much as possible, I'm
      often stymied in attempts to get around without a car, and after ten
      years of car-free living in Portland, I'd become pretty ingenious.
      Judging from my 2001 trip to Los Angeles (where Richard gave me some
      excellent hints about getting around), that quintessential car city has
      better public transit than the Twin Cities do. Express buses running
      every 15 minutes on a Sunday are just unimaginable here, where the MTC
      pats itself on the back for running 3 buses per hour on weekdays one of
      the most useful routes.

      As I travel around the area with newly sensitized eyes, I can see that
      what hindered the development of sustainable transit in this area was
      the rapidity and efficiency of the freeway building program. Because
      the area acquired so many freeways so quickly, there are now a number
      of "island" neighborhoods that are or could be terrific walkable
      neighborhoods, but they are utterly inaccessible without a car. In
      addition, some idiotic urban planners let the big box stores knock down
      existing commercial structures and set up suburban-style shopping
      centers and fast-food outlets in the city--but only in the poorer
      neighborhoods, where developers could get away with throwing up
      structures that are ticky-tacky even by the generous standards of that
      sort of building.

      Judging from the bicycle and pedestrian traffic jams that I encounter
      on the lakeside paths in good weather, Twin Cities people are not
      averse to cycling or walking, although they are understandably averse
      to riding the neglected bus system. It's just that wherever they go,
      they inevitably run into barriers.

      Meanwhile, we've got a city council member, a Green no less, pushing
      PRT as the salvation of us all. Ken Avidor is valiantly fighting that
      bit of idiocy.

      The one bright spot is that the new light rail line seems to be
      attracting riders, despite its limited area of service, and that city
      officials are making favorable noises about connecting the downtowns of
      Minneapolis and St. Paul with light rail, which is a great idea, since
      the route would run through the University of Minnesota's main campus
      and non-affluent and immigrant neighborhoods, thereby negating the
      talking point that rail critics used in Portland about rail systems
      being toys for suburban commuters at the expense of inner city
      residents.

      In transit,
      Karen Sandness
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