Comment 104704

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 22, 2014 at 15:48:16 in reply to Comment 104701

That, actually, is exactly the discussion we need to have. A friend of mine complained about how the LRT discussion is classist and it's just about a bunch of middle-class yuppies wanting to make the city look more like Portland... and it occurred to me that he's exactly right.

It's all about class. Specifically, it's about getting the middle-class into transit. Buses, right now, are for two kinds of people:

  • Folks who have no better option, and
  • Folks who are ideologically committed to the bus.

Fundamentally, the LRT is about making transit palatable to the middle class. Shunting poor people and teenagers and the disabled and hippies around is a problem that's solved by buses, but people who have a real alternative are obviously not taking the bus. Bus travel is slow and miserable, while cars are fast and comfortable. You might be able to sell bus travel to the middle-class for a short segment of a trip, but taking it end-to-end is apparently something they're not willing to do.

By getting the middle class onto transit, it allows the core to serve people who are traveling by transit. Serve them with the higher density by eliminating seas of parking, higher frequency bus-service away from the LRT transit hubs, and so on, pulling the city into human scale. Once there's a good alternative to driving then traffic calming becomes palatable.

This also lets us make the city sustainable instead of depending on carbon-emitting finite-resource-consuming combustion engines. I know a lot of folks roll their eyes when talking about global warming, but I know one day my grand-kids are going to ask me why the heck we didn't do anything about it, and I'd like to have an answer "we tried". This is doing something - more than recycling and carbon credits and turning off your lights for an hour once a year.

And there are two ways to get middle class people onto transit. The first one is to push people out of their cars by making cars suck, through taxes and regulations and street-design and a true "war on cars" to make car-travel suck as much as the bus. Obviously, that's unpalatable to the electorate and also kind of economically dumb. The other is to give people a good alternative to cars.

Hence, LRT.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-09-22 15:53:16

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