Tuesday, May 30th, 2006 at 6:44 pm in Transit vs. driving.
I got a raft of e-mails and calls on the pain story, (“What will it take … to get us out of our cars?”) which ran on Memorial Day. Most of those readers like pleasure over pain, and the rest find our system of public transit to be a pain.
The most interesting response wasn’t even from the Bay Area:
Your question-title should really be, “What will it take to make alternative transportation more effective, more practical, more liberal, more reliable, more producible, more convenient, less expensive, etc., so that private cars are less attractive?”
Seems anything with a “green” label is more expensive and less tenable than conventional private transportation.
Why does it appear that policymakers and environmental leaders assume the masses must be punished out of their cars? Why do they seem to believe dis-incentives are stronger than positive incentives? Could it be the cards they hold have little promise?
I’d love to ride public transport to and from work every day, but given my rural address, just imagine the hellish taxes I’d be paying for that opportunity. Meanwhile, “smart” growth and force-pleasing don’t reflect the liberty we Americans take for granted.
The freedom and liberty to live where I want and face the punishment of long commutes and high gasoline prices may seem (exhorbitant) to you, but it’s simply the cost of being American to the rest of us. Only when environmentalists put down the mirrors and extinguish their smoking lanterns, and make their ideas palatable and affordable, will Americans decide it’s a good idea to stop driving their cars.
The freedom and liberty to live in Ardmore, Alabama, is a powerful thing. I wish I had the freedom to live in Pleasanton without paying $700,000 for a house (about one-seventh of what you could expect to pay in Ardmore).
Another reader, who hails from Hayward, told me on the phone this morning that we need to plow more money into transit:
We’re just way behind when it comes to public trainsit. Its just not convenient … Get on bart during the busy hours. It’s standing room only, they don’t want to add more cars.”
He also sung the praises of Europe, which has its transit act together, thanks to gas tax revenues. I’m not sure either of us really knew where Europeans spend their gas tax revenues. I do know, however that BART, which is looking forward to a new budget that’s not as stretched as in recent years, IS, in fact, planning to add more cars to its trains.
My favorite comment was short and sweet:
Mass transit is a great idea. I am retired and out of the commute mix but as I remember, the times that I attempted to use mass transit, it was extremely slow and grossly inefficient.
A bit harsh, but you could find many to agree with its sentiment. After three years in LA and three years in New York, I’ll remain neutral.