Comment 2787

By schmadrian (registered) | Posted December 26, 2006 at 12:52:35

Well, I've often felt that we're living in a closed-loop where it comes to 'mass transit being the solution, where the automobile is the problem'.

That is, you cannot (as in 'The Government') insist that people begin to take an entirely different approach to 'getting around' unless you provide a viable alternative. It's pointless, it's silly...and it's either naive or arrogant, take your pick.

Until we have a breakthrough regarding non-petroleum-based cars(never gonna happen, not with the oil cartel having so much power as to be able to effectively declare wars; the only thing that's ever going to force a change is for us to run out), people have to be enticed to using transit. (Even if it's just as an auxuillary to their family car.

And you know what? No matter where I've lived (Canada, UK, US), I've never seen an integrated system that works. More precisely, a system that's a sufficiently enticing one as to get people out of their vehicles and onto transit.

The start here, is to provide service that not only meets needs, but draws people away from the default, their car. (Keep in mind throughout anything I say that the goal here is not just to provide an alternative, but an enticing one. It has to supercede to a certain level what the car provides. And seeing as the car has suah an enormous value both in personal validaiton and for men, as a pnis extension, we're talking a huge task.) So for Hamilton, you need coverage, you need scheduling and you need integration. You don't want me commuting in my car to any point north of the city? Fine; make me an offer to keep me off the highways. I can't believe that regional integration has been so long in coming...and it's still not really there. (I'm actually *not surprised; this is prof-positive of how entrenched the value is of 'the car' in our society. It is, no other way of putting it, insidious. Having returned to North America recently, I'm all the more aghast at how the automobile dominates television advertising! I'll save the meat of this for an article, but how did we ever end up placing so much importance on an item whose only real purpose is to get us from Point A to Point B?!? This is, in my view, astounding.)

The second aspect of enticement is the cost. I look at monthly passes here, in Toronto, in the UK...and what strikes me is that the authority providing the service (and therefore, 'the deals) looks at things bassakwards. Or, not to put too fine a point on it, they're not looking at it with the same value system in mind as someone might, were they trying to effect a paradigm shift away from cars, trying to 'entice' people to 'a better way'. And therein lies the problem. As long as we look at transit as a 'money-maker', we're DNS/DNF. The closed-loop I mentioned.

The third part ties into the first two, but from the other side of the equation: the passenger's interest in making that paradigm shift. Somewhere along the line, people have to want to do what's right, travel, commute, locomotion-wise. As fresh generations are introduced into society, there is a mindset-shift. (Or at the very least, the possibility of one; look at recycling, or even healthier eating attitudes. Can you imagine either of these to aspect of modern living being given the focus they are by today's younger generation, by their parents or grand-parents a quarter-century ago? Change is possible in an attitudinal sense, but it takes enormous awareness...and initiative.)

Again, I see Hamilton as having an enormous opportunity here. The possibilities are incredible when it comes to building a transit system that's remarkable in its scope, its attitude towards sustainability, and the shift in attitude about what the 'default' is where getting around is concerned. But it would take some truly visionary thinking to get the ball rolling, to begin looking at how things could be in the area. Because so much needs to be addressed/fixed here, we're in the enviable position of having all manner of options open to us. (Unlike Toronto, for example, where they're very much locked-in to what they've put in play over the past forty years.)

Come on, people! Not to get all trite on everyone, but we really need to think outside the box. If you want something truly exemplary, and I'm sure Hamiltonians do, or would, if they were encouraged to dream more, then you have to think in exemplary ways.

Or, to put a more realistic spin on things: we're all part of the problem, there's no reason we can't all be part of the solution.

Here's to more exemplary visioning in 2007.

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