Local transit decentralization
I'd like to risk taking a poll here and see what you think about this proposed local project.
Currently, our local mass-transit system consists of 26 bus routes with 20-60 minute headways. It's obviously inefficient; the longest trip being:
Ride first bus: 30
Wait for second bus: 30
Ride second bus: 30
...a total trip time of 1.5-2.5 hours. [http://talgov.com/starmetro/systemmap.cfm%5d
They're currently working on a re-do called "Nova2010" [http://talgov.com/starmetro/nova2010_routes.cfm%5d that will reduce the system to 12 routes with 15-30 minute headways. The advantage is obvious: shorter travel times for the same trip. However, many locals are up in arms over this change because:
- Out of the 41 bus transfer points, all but six have painted crosswalks, curb cuts, and pedestrian signals--but only two of them have audible signals for the visually impaired.
- Transferring buses will involve crossing intersections, while transferring buses now only involves crossing a controlled-access bus station.
- Some trips will require three buses and two transfers, even though the trip time will still be shorter than with the current single-transfer system.
- Of course, the fact that intersections are dangerous by design--and that drivers are intentionally dangerous--leads to even more uproar.
- From some residential neighborhoods, walks will increase by about a half-mile, which is predicted to increase Dial-A-Ride usage for people who simply can't walk that far.
- StarMetro is being accused of trying to "get commuters to use the system", i.e., "choice riders", at the expense of people who "actually need" to use it.
My personal observations are:
- StarMetro is advertising the project as "budget-neutral", which I think means "If we ask the City Commission for an extra cent, they'll fire our director and strip our funding even more."
- If, in fact, it does get more use from "choice riders", that could increase local political support for mass transit. I've always theorized that if you use the mindset that if a transit system is "just to help the poor and people with disabilities barely get by", it'll remain exactly that. Kind of like Medicaid.
So, any thoughts here?
[Yes...I know that this route decentralization pays no attention to the big picture. I know that the City Commission won't touch the "forced parking" ordinance with a ten-foot pole; I was at a housing ordinance hearing once and they looked at me like I was from another planet when I expressed opposition to it. I also realize that we're dealing with a City Commission--and an electorate--that wants to maintain the status quo as a "drivers' rights above all others" city.]