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We're All for Mass Transit -- in Theory

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  • Doug Salzmann
    Steve Lopez: Points West We re All for Mass Transit --
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 8, 2004
      <http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-columnist-slopez,1,5658204.columnist?coll=la-headlines-california>

      Steve Lopez: Points West

      We're All for Mass Transit -- in Theory


      On the morning after Labor Day, the southbound 5 is backed up just north of
      Dodger Stadium and the northbound 101 is stalled near the Rog Mahal, where a
      few stressed-out motorists may have paused to pray for an early death.

      I get to the office and go digging for a report from the Public Policy
      Institute of California.

      There it is; here's what it says:

      "Two in three [California] residents (67%) prefer to focus on making more
      efficient use of freeways and highways and expanding mass transit instead of
      building new freeways (30%)."

      This has to be a mistake, at least on the mass-transit issue. The report
      also claims 68% would vote for a sales tax hike to pay for more roads and -
      I swear on my grandmother's grave - more public transit.

      We drive in California, preferably alone. That's what you and I do. And if
      we liked taxes, we wouldn't have voted for the current governor, who
      expressed his feelings about a car tax increase by dropping a wrecking ball
      on an automobile.

      I'm telling you the Public Policy Institute researchers were duped if they
      think two-thirds of the respondents would rather expand bus and train
      service than throw every last nickel into laying down more asphalt.

      A new report by the Texas Transportation Institute crowns greater Los
      Angeles yet again as national champion for the amount of time we're stuck in
      traffic.

      This is not an achievement you luck into. You have to work at it, with year
      after year of bad planning, for one thing, and a collective commitment to
      avoid any personal sacrifice.

      Traffic has actually taken a dip in these parts since 1992, which could be
      because of more highways. So why not build more?

      The same Texas study sent a shout-out to San Bernardino and Riverside
      counties, which tied Dallas-Fort Worth for biggest increase in traffic
      nationally.

      My promise to Dallas and Fort Worth is that they won't be able to keep pace
      over the next 20 years. San Bernardino and Riverside will leave them in the
      dust in both traffic jams and smog, or as we like to call it here,
      "unhealthful air."

      How do I know this?

      Because population growth was the whole point of the Public Policy Institute
      survey. We could go from the current 35 million to around 45 million by
      2025, and no one in Sacramento is doing a thing to prepare the state for
      this expansion.

      "For most people," said survey director Mark Baldassare, "it seems to be
      that mass transit is part of the mix they'd like to see for the state's
      future."

      Don't believe it for a minute.

      Sure, you might occasionally hear someone chatting up the merits of mass
      transit. But the first assumption is that someone else will use it, and the
      first requirement is that it pass through someone else's neighborhood.

      Take the Gold Line, long-awaited and much ballyhooed. Nobody rides it, and
      neighbors complain of the noise.

      Take the Orange Line busway in the San Fernando Valley. It may never get
      built, thanks to neighborhood opposition.

      Take the Wilshire Boulevard buses-only lane. It could get dumped because car
      traffic is slowed while bus passengers whisk by.

      "It's annoying," a frustrated 21-year-old driver told The Times' Caitlin
      Liu.

      "You see an empty lane, you want to dart over there, but you can't."

      Don't just get rid of the bus lane, I say. Get rid of the buses.

      And what's with these bike riders clogging traffic?

      _____

      Steve Lopez can be reached at steve.lopez@...
    • Matt Hohmeister
      Is there anyone out there who d like to debunk the myth that mass transit sends taxes through the roof, but 14-lane freeways just come out of thin air and cost
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 10, 2004
        Is there anyone out there who'd like to debunk the myth that mass transit sends taxes
        through the roof, but 14-lane freeways just come out of thin air and cost no money? This
        seems to be the popular perception.

        *snip*
        We drive in California, preferably alone. That's what you and I do. And if
        we liked taxes, we wouldn't have voted for the current governor, who
        expressed his feelings about a car tax increase by dropping a wrecking ball
        on an automobile.
        *snip*
      • J.H. Crawford
        ... As always, start with VTPI in Victoria for this kind of data. -- ### -- J.H. Crawford
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 10, 2004
          >Is there anyone out there who'd like to debunk the myth that mass transit
          >sends taxes
          >through the roof, but 14-lane freeways just come out of thin air and cost no
          >money? This
          >seems to be the popular perception.

          As always, start with VTPI in Victoria for this kind of data.



          -- ### --

          J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
          mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
        • Richard Risemberg
          ... Hey, I m working on it! Get people to read http://www.newcolonist.com and http://www.living-room.org (particularly the former) where I hammer on this
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 10, 2004
            Matt Hohmeister wrote:

            > Is there anyone out there who'd like to debunk the myth that mass transit sends taxes
            > through the roof, but 14-lane freeways just come out of thin air and cost no money? This
            > seems to be the popular perception.
            >
            Hey, I'm working on it! Get people to read http://www.newcolonist.com
            and http://www.living-room.org (particularly the former) where I hammer
            on this theme repeatedly.

            I also like to point out that freeways take land *off* the tax rolls,
            and so cause a double loss, apart from their construction and operating
            costs. And that they lower property values near them (thus reducing
            county income), whereas transit stations (at least rail transit
            stations) *increase* commerce & property values, and so increase tax
            rolls (or, if you're Republican, allow you to lower tax rates everywhere).

            You could also write a letter to the editor every chance you get--as
            long as your rant refers to a recent article that touches on the
            subject. They often do print them.

            Richard
            --
            Richard Risemberg
            http://www.living-room.org
            http://www.newcolonist.com

            "It's my duty to fight those who have chosen to belong to the party of
            death, those who say they receive their orders from God somewhere and
            believe they have a duty to set the world on fire to achieve their own
            salvation, whether they are in the warrens of Iraq, or in the White
            House. I prefer to be a card-carrying member of the party of life."

            Wole Soyinka
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