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microcosmic bus vs. rail at Oakland Airport

By enelson
Wednesday, February 21st, 2007 at 11:01 pm in AC Transit, air travel, BART, Buses, connectivity, Environment, Fare systems, Funding, rail, tolls, transit equity.

airbart-now-3-one-way.jpg

At long last, people who don’t mind dragging their bags on and off of BART (or don’t have a car) will have to pay $3, starting March 1, to get from the Coliseum BART Station to Oakland International Airport. Senior citizen and airport employee fares will double as of March 1 to $1 and $2, respectively.

The current $2 charge for AirBART has been in effect since 1985, so one can’t be too shocked that the Oakland port authority decided today to raise it. At least it’s not going to $4 like the bridge tolls.

And consider that the extra $1 is for a good cause: Buying new natural gas buses. I’m guessing hydrogen fuel cell buses would require an extra dollar on every AC Transit fare.

Here’s and idea: Put up those spiffy overhead electric wires and run all-electric buses. Talk about clean!

But wait, I’m forgetting the ultra-groovy BART connector that the Port of Oakland, BART and developers want to build. Why spend a few hundred thousand when you can spend $377 million? Or so I’ve heard people say.

The thing the hike does for me is raise the question, how much is a trip to the airport’s front door worth? Will air passengers clutching their JetBlue vouchers (we’re talking years from now, of course) be willing to plunk down $6 for a one-way fare after they’ve already bought a BART fare?

There are two answers to this question, according to my crystal ball. The first is, of course they will! They took BART to the airport because they had no idea they were going to be paying more than a couple more bucks to travel that last three miles. The second is, never again. For that kind of money, they might as well dispense with the schlepping of the baggage and take the Super Shuttle or equal. The third, for those Kool-Aid drinkin’ transit devotees, will be to take BART, then wait a bit for AC Transit for the last leg. By then, BART should be taking TransLink, so you won’t even feel the extra cost as it’s sucked out of your bank account.

But then, my crystal ball’s something of a cynic.

But for now, we have trusty ol’ AirBART, a fleet of five 9-year-old buses, each with 500,000 or more miles on the odometer and a growing annual ridership of 1.3 million.

And here’s the second and related issue: That wonderful, mystical disagreement between the advocates of bus and rail (talk about your Kool-Aid!). The airport connector, it would seem, is the perfect issue for bus people to latch onto to prove their point. AirBART works. AirBART’s reasonable. AirBART should not be abandoned for some huge make-work project that nobody holding a Southwest ticket is going to use.

What does rail have? It has cachet, it has what the French call, I don’t know what. Hey, I use rail. I like rail. I ride airport connectors just for fun (provided they’re free). The question is, does the flying public want a deluxe connector, a tried-and-true bus every 10 minutes or the Super Shuttle?

Photo from www.flyoakland.com. 

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31 Responses to “microcosmic bus vs. rail at Oakland Airport”

  1. Doug Faunt Says:

    When AC gets the 1R running, that’ll be an attractive option for getting to OAK.

    If AirBART and AC Transit had a dedicated right-of-way, then they’d be just as good as rail.

    And what is this “Kool-Aid drinkin’” reference? Are you equating riding transit to suicide?

  2. South Bay Resident Says:

    From the Simpson’s episode:

    Lyle Lanley: Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth
    Like a genuine,
    Bona fide,
    Electrified,
    Six-car
    Monorail!
    What’d I say?
    Ned Flanders: Monorail!
    Lyle Lanley: What’s it called?
    Patty+Selma: Monorail!
    Lyle Lanley: That’s right! Monorail!
    [crowd chants `Monorail' softly and rhythmically]
    Miss Hoover: I hear those things are awfully loud…
    Lyle Lanley: It glides as softly as a cloud.
    Apu: Is there a chance the track could bend?
    Lyle Lanley: Not on your life, my Hindu friend.
    Barney: What about us brain-dead slobs?
    Lyle Lanley: You’ll be given cushy jobs.
    Abe: Were you sent here by the devil?
    Lyle Lanley: No, good sir, I’m on the level.
    Wiggum: The ring came off my pudding can.
    Lyle Lanley: Take my pen knife, my good man.
    I swear it’s Springfield’s only choice…
    Throw up your hands and raise your voice!
    All: Monorail!
    Lyle Lanley: What’s it called?
    All: Monorail!
    Lyle Lanley: Once again…
    All: Monorail!
    Marge: But Main Street’s still all cracked and broken…
    Bart: Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken!
    All: Monorail!
    Monorail!
    Monorail!
    [big finish]
    Monorail!
    Homer: Mono… D’oh!

    But seriously, AirBART is as fast and frequent as the monorail is projected to be and could be improved with better signage and some other smallish improvements for peanuts. Why spend 1/3 of a billion dollars on a project that offers no real benefit. If you insist on having neato styling, you could always by van Hool buses for to replace AirBART’s current fleet.

  3. transit-dependent Says:

    The buses need a right-of-way, though. There are a series of wild hairpin turns on the way from the station to the Airport, and the bus often gets stuck in traffic. It’s not so much that we need rail, as we need a flyover structure that gets the station-to-airport crowd there faster and without interference.

  4. Michael Says:

    Will the monorail go to the car rental center?

  5. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    The Airport Connector is just filled with absurdities! People are concerned with saving a couple of minutes on the trip from the BART station to the airport, where you are told that you should come an hour earlier to clear security. That is ignoring the extra time it takes to travel on BART in the first place! If you live near the airport, it is faster to drive than to wait for BART. If you live far from the airport, it is faster to drive than to travel on BART.

    Where were all the riders that would justify the connector come from? Back in days of yore, they were supposed to mostly be workers at the airport. Now that the project cost has grown, the employment centers have been dropped from the service area.

    Of course, people are concerned about the noise and pollution from buses that one takes to get to where you have to go in order to ride on the noisiest, most polluting mass transit system of them all. [Incidentally, natural gas engines are not particularly clean, which is one of the reasons AC Transit went to California Air Resources Board (CARB) diesel engines for their fleet rather than natural gas. Natural gas spews more nitrogen oxides, as well as unburned hydrocarbons, although fewer particulates.]

    Erik has covered the economics pretty well. It never made sense, and it makes less and less every day.

  6. Capricious Commuter Says:

    Doug, I was referring not to self-destruction, but cultish fervor for one mode or the other. I see it with buses, bikes and trains, although none have quite come close to the one true faith, which I like to call, My Way IS the Highway. After covering the BART breakdown today, I jumped into my Honda, paid my $4 offering (via FasTrak; I bet the churches, temples, etc. would like to use electronic tithe tags) and drove home. What can I say? I was in a hurry.

  7. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    Unfortunately, the Highway is the most dangerous cult of them all. We are living lives of ease today, so our children will not in the future.

  8. Capricious Commuter Says:

    Hey, wait just a minute, there, Bruce. My driving yesterday was all about the children’s future. I drove my car I so I could make pick up my son from the airport. Although now that I think about it, he could have taken a bus home, but that could have clouded his future with thoughts of, “Does my father really love me?” No sacrifice is too great (driving 89 miles, global warming, tsunamis) for our children.

  9. South Bay Resident Says:

    CC

    While the Airport connector is silly no matter how you slice it, it seems to me that highways are the only way to cost-effectively provide mobility to most people in most of the bay area. There are exceptions (SF, part of Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, basically the areas originally served by the Key system), but these areas make up, only about 1/8 of the total area’s population. For the rest of the area you need dramatic changes in urban development patterns to make transit even a consideration for anyone but the very poor.

    If you’re serious about encouraging transit then realize that you’re condemning the lower and middle and classes to cramped apartments adjacent to noxious pollution, conditions far worse than are typical in dense areas today because much of the polluting industry has been dispersed to suburban locations as have the workers that work there. Forcing such facilities to be compatible with transit magnifies the environmental problems. People embraced suburbanism for a reason and to give it up means paying very real costs.

  10. Jason Says:

    What do you mean by “at long last”? That phrase makes it sound like you’ve been waiting in happy anticipation of the AirBART fare going up.

    I agree completely that there’s no reason to invest in a big shiny monorail that doesn’t offer a benefit proportional to the cost (either out of pocket or public money). And I’m a big transit advocate.

    AirBART actually does seem to work for a reasonable price. It’s always crowded when I take it. New buses and dedicated lanes might make it a little better.

    I’d also like it to be possible to get to a 6 am flight out of OAK on a Sunday via public transit from downtown Oakland — check 511.org, it’s impossible — but that’s another issue altogether. I’m not going to hold my breath. (At least the AllNighter makes it possible to catch 6 am flights any other day of the week.)

    By the way, South Bay Resident’s argument is specious. Encouraging transit means more pollution in the inner city because more factories will be located there? Hardly. Reducing vehicle miles traveled will reduce pollution.

  11. South Bay Resident Says:

    What I was saying is that if we’re serious about transit it means much higher densities which will result in everyone being closer to noxious or toxic emissions. It is true that there will be fewer emissions overall, but many people’s exposure to them will be greater.

  12. Aaron Priven Says:

    Our economy is not predominantly a manufacturing economy any more, and jobs in offices or stores are entirely compatible with being next to residences. If you look at where the pollution in low income areas comes from, quite a bit of it, even in areas that traditionally were manufacturing areas, comes from cars and, especially, trucks. A significant mode shift away from cars to transit is quite possible without any impact on those kinds of uses at all. And, should we ever get to the point where we have a really high mode shift into transit, high enough to make people who specify the locations for factories and warehouses (both inherently low-density uses that make more sense outside dense urban areas), it will be justifiable to have dedicated shuttle services take their employees from somewhere in the transit network out to these job sites.

  13. BART Fan Says:

    You folks aren’t looking at the long term, and many of your facts are wrong. First of all, the Airport Connector isn’t a monorail. It’s planned to be a driverless rubber tired people mover according to the BART website. Second, I’ve heard nothing about a $6 one-way fare – I’ve heard $5, but that would be 4 years from now when the service would begin.

    Most importantly, the big picture is expected growth of the region. Most here will acknowledge that the current bus is crowded. So is the freeway. So are the access roads at times. More busses are a quick fix to the current problem but with additional congestion in future years to the freeways and access roads these additional busses will become delayed in traffic.

    Dedicated bus lanes are an option, but there are significant cost implications with building additional lanes (property acquisition, relocation, and construction costs). These would likely add up to the price of the planned airport connector, not to mention take several years of planning which would do nothing but increase the cost.

    The airport connector, as BART has planned it, would provide a safe, comfortable ride (like the little blue trains at SFO airport and other airports around the world) and get you to the airport on-time without getting stuck on Hegenberger traffic. And it’s electric powered (without overhead lines, I might add.)

    Considering cost to the rider, off-airport parking is averaging $10-15 PER DAY depending on where you go, on-airport parking is more. Then you have to consider the price of gas to get there, the wear and tear on your car, etc. This adds up to a price that far exceeds the $5 or $6 mentioned above.

  14. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    4 years from now, the airport further along on its way to becoming a marsh again. Especially when most people are more concerned about their immediate wants and ease than about the world their children will live in.

    The differences between a “people mover” and the same system with buses is that buses have drivers, and in return, the buses can offer more frequent, flexible service with better capacity and a better safety record. Hybrid technology even allows buses that run on the street to run on a wire or other electrical pickup when one is available. Would that were the case for airplanes!

  15. BART Fan Says:

    Mr. De Benedictis, if the doomsday scenario of global warming flooding the airport were to happen, we Bay Area residents would have far greater concerns than getting a ride to the airport.

    But to your other points, I disagree that busses have a better safety record or better capacity. A bus in mixed traffic can’t compete with a people mover in terms of safety or capacity. For one thing, people movers don’t have to wait for traffic signals or roadway congestion. Dedicated bus lanes could be built to solve this problem, but the cost would approach that of a people mover system, especially if a grade separated busway were built. Furthermore, people movers have a virtually non-existent chance of colliding with autos, poles, pedestrians, etc., and have an excellent safety record due to both the physical separation from other forms of traffic and because there are no drivers to make mistakes. The same cannot be said for busses and in fact bus accidents are far more common.

    People movers operate reliably all over the world (at airports primarily) but also in some urban settings, accumulating millions of annual vehicle miles without accidents. It should also be noted that the people mover accidents we read about occur during testing or when under the manual control of a human.

  16. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    Yes, we do have far greater concerns than getting a ride to the airport. So why are we wasting money on the ride to the airport?

    I am sure that if you spend enough money, you can make a people mover safe, say, if you put each car on a separate track and only run them back and forth. Just like the Seattle monorail!

    Making a separate right-of-way which is compatible with buses may cost almost as much as a people-mover, although I bet it would be a lot less. However, there is no way that a people mover can do anything more except go back and forth on its track. It cannot go into other area. It cannot make intermediate stops without costing a huge amount of capital expense, and without spending even more money, upsetting everyone else’s schedule. If a part of it goes down, all of it goes down.

    By the way, if you have a medical emergency on a people mover, it will not call for help, or get you to a hospital. There is no one there to help you.

  17. Capricious Commuter Says:

    There’s just so much going on here, I don’t know where to start. I was particularly intrigued by your comment, SBR, about densities and people’s exposure to pollutants.

    Are you saying people shouldn’t live in cities, because they’d be exposed to noxious or toxic emissions? Should we all move to Fairfield? Actually, there’s quite a bit of smog in the San Joaquin Valley, so Tracy residents might be better off living in the Fruitvale transit-oriented development.

    Smog tends to blow into the inland valleys, so places like Pleasanton and Concord get the area’s highest readings, just like Lake Arrowhead down Southern California often bears the brunt of LA.s air pollution. If we concentrate population next to the Bay and they consequently drive less, we’ll actually be doing people in low-density inland areas a favor.

  18. South Bay Resident Says:

    CC:
    I’m not saying that people shouldn’t live in cities. People should live where works best for them. What I am also saying that suburbanization and zoning laws improved conditions in cities by dispersing pollution and other hazards (when was the last time you had to step over a passed out bum in Walnut Creek). The San Francisco of today is a dramatically better place to live than the San Francisco of 1920. I pick 1920 because it is the last year in which transit had a 50% market share in the U.S.

    In the teens and 1920′s cities were regarded as terrible places to live and there were lots of movements to remake them into safer, more humane environments. The two main strategies used were dispersal, which was made much easier by the introduction of the car (although cities had been spreading out since the 19th century along rail lines) and zoning. Our current urban form is far denser than what some leading architects of the 1920′s proposed. For example, incorporating the ideas from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre city in modern urban planning was supported by such notables as John Dewey, Albert Einstein, Archibald MacLeish, Nelson Rockefeller, and Robert Moses.

    In many ways suburbanization has been a great success. We no longer have disasters like the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 (my personal favorite urban disaster in which 20 or so people were killed and over 100 injured in Boston when a molasses tank ruptured, flooding the surrounding area). Most people live surrounded by private gardens and have a great deal of choice as to what kind of physical environment surrounds them. Also, slums of the kind that existed around the turn of the century have vanished and their replacements (single family homes and low rise apartments with several people per room) are far more comfortable than the tenements they replaced. On the whole suburbanization has been a great success. Reverting to a time when transit had more than a (say) 15% market share would involve increasing density to the point where your would bring back most of what the early 20th century reformers sought to eliminate. I’m not sure this is a good thing.

    As someone who has lived in small towns, suburbs, exurbs and inner cities, I have found that low density development allows people much more control over their environment than does high density development (It is also cheaper both in terms of private and public expenditure, but that’s the subject of another post) However, low density areas require more energy for transportation and offends the aesthetic sensibilities of the modern elite. For me, I prefer to live in a low density area adjacent to a large urban area, which allows me access to a strong job market and space to live how I like without bothering my neighbors or being assaulted by the noxious emissions of factories or restaurants.

  19. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    However, the big thing is that living in the suburbs and working in the cities allows you to take advantages of the tax-provided services offered by both, but the taxes overwhelmingly go to the suburb, while the taxes that the city-dweller pays go to pay for the services that everyone who comes to the city gets to use. Also a big proportion of urban-generated taxes gets sent directly to suburbs, such as when federal highway taxes are generated on city streets and sent to other areas. Or when you get groups like the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which has been taking money that would have gone to urban areas and sending it to suburb areas.

  20. South Bay Resident Says:

    Bruce,

    Since around 80% of employment in the bay area is suburban*, this can’t be the primary reason people live and work in suburbs. The fact is most people live in one suburb and commute to another. Further, given the tax structure of California, it is to your advantage to have lots of business, especially business that sells something subject to sales tax. In fact, San Francisco, in addition to hosting lots of sales tax generating businesses also benefits from revenue from all kinds of other unusual sources, such as quarrying in Sunol, developing land in Pleasanton, and operating (some would say plundering) the Hetch Hechy water system. As for gas tax money, the situation is more complex than you claim. Let me just point out that urban transit projects consume around 17% of federal gas tax revenues (and a similar, but much more variable amount of CA gas taxes), which is far out of proportion of public transit’s market share (around 1% nationwide and 10% in the Bay area) and that urban road projects often consume significant amounts of cash. That being said, there have been a bunch of money-flushing transit projects in the Bay Area that benefit nobody (BART to SFO, BART to San Jose, the Central Subway, and the Capitol Corridor, eBART, ACE and the Oakland Airport Monorail all come to mind as grand wastes of funds).

    * Lots of this depends on your definition of urban and suburban. Numbers I’ve seen reported range from around 92% to 70% of the workforce in the bay area working in the suburbs. You could generate your own number using census tract data, but I don’t have time.

  21. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    If you want to convince me that your statistics are reasonable, you should start off with something other than saying that no more than 20% of the population in the Bay Area is employed in urban areas. That is absurd on the face of it.

  22. BART Fan Says:

    Mr. Benedict, it seems you are suggesting putting everything on hold until we solve the global warming problem. That just isn’t practical. An airport connector takes cars and smelly busses off the roads. That is a step in the right direction.

    There can be multiple trains in a loop-type system and be perfectly safe. How do you think BART operates? Do you think the “Operators” are driving those trains? They operate under Automatic Train Protection which keeps them from running into eachother. People movers like SFO’s AirTrain operate much the same way, although the technology is newer.

    A separate right of way, if we’re talking about an elevated track, would cost about the same for bus or people mover. The structure has to support the weight of the vehicles traveling on it as well as support the structure’s own weight, which is substantial. To make a bus more attractive with regard to price, you’d have to move to an at-grade right of way. And you’d have to buy real estate to put it on. That isn’t cheap. Pencil it out before you jump to conclusions.

    As for an emergency call, a train “Operator” doesn’t have a clue what’s going on in the cars behind him(or her). He must be notified by train intercom in the case of an emergency. In a people mover, the “operator” that would recieve that emergency call from the intercom is located in the operations center instead of the front of the train. The response to the emergency is the same.

  23. South Bay Resident Says:

    Bruce,

    The facts may seem absurd, but they are what they are. I don’t have much time to discuss things today (I have actual work to do), but here are some quick data points for you.

    From 1990 Census Data, using 1982 economic census CBD boundaries (the census decided to stop publishing CBD data in 1982, but Wendell Cox tabulated the information for 1990 at http://www.demographia.com/dm-uscbd.htm

    Total Employment in SF-Oakland-San Jose CMSA: 3,153,201
    Employment in San Francisco CBD: 184,254
    Employment in Oakland CBD: 32,800
    Employment in San Jose CBD: 29,100
    Total Bay Area CBD employment: 246 154

    CBD share of bay area total employment: 7.8%

    Note that this isn’t the most relevant data because I was referring to more than just the CBD. Using city data from the census and picking a population density of 7000 people/square mile (10.9 people/acre), which should correspond to 3 or 4 dwelling units per acre as the urban/suburban cutoff.

    Bay Area nonfarm employment (2007):
    Alameda: 626,076
    CC: 326,359
    Marin: 102,053
    Napa: 54,563
    San Francisco: 534,015
    San Mateo: 309,002
    Santa Clara: 849,891
    Sonoma: 164,735
    Solano: 103,979

    Total: 3,070,673

    Employment in places with densities of over 7000 people per square mile:

    San Francisco: 534,015
    Oakland: 110,751*
    Berkeley: 39 047*

    Note that San Jose is below the density cutoff, so it is excluded, but significant suburban areas are included in Oakland (and arguably San Francisco). Also, note that I’m using residential density rather than employment density, but these are usually related.
    * 2002 Economic Census (The latest data available for cities)

    Anyhow… Using this (somewhat crude) analysis I get:

    Total urban city employment: 683,813

    Urban city share of regional employment: 22%

    Which is right in the range that I suggested in my prior post. Since 78% of jobs and a greater share of population is in the suburbs, I think that it is reasonable that the suburbs garner a similar share of transportation funding.

  24. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    South Bay Resident, although the definition you are using for urban is unrealistic, your statistics still show that urban areas provide more than twice the jobs per person living in the area. Of course, jobs are not the only reason people travel to an area. Berkeley, San Francisco, and Oakland offer things which are not available in other areas. Also, people travel through those areas to get to other areas, undoubtedly more than people from cities travel through what you call “suburbs.” All this leads to cities bearing more than their share.

    ART Fan, I guess you are planning on dying before the effects of our lifestyle make an impact that you are willing to admit to. You are undoubtedly too late for that, but it all goes back to what I said: We are living lives of ease so our children will not in the future.

    But I think you have other issues. Why do you talk about “smelly buses,” and not about smelly automobiles? Why are they a concern and not smelly airplanes, the most polluting public transit system in existence?

    If you smell diesel exhaust these days, chances are it is from a truck, ambulance, fire engine or something other than a bus. If you smell a bus, chances are it is a natural gas burning bus. There is still more that is being done, but buses have cleaned up their act a lot better than other vehicles. Especially airplanes, that spread their stench over miles. If you go anywhere near an airport, that is the smell that overwhelms everything else. If that is really an issue, we should close all the airports, and then there is no need for the airport connector.

  25. South Bay Resident Says:

    Bruce,

    First, I just don’t see what you’re claiming in the data. The number of jobs per resident is higher in San Francisco than in the bay area as a whole, but Oakland and Berkeley have fewer jobs per capita than the regional average (actually, Oakland has fewer than the suburban average). Overall the numbers are pretty close.

    Oakland Population: 373,910
    Jobs per resident: .296

    Berkeley Population: 90,432
    Jobs Per resident: 0.431

    San Francisco Population: 719,077
    Jobs per resident 0.742

    Total Urban area population: 1 183 419
    Urban area jobs/resident: .578

    Suburban Bay Area population: 5 767 841
    Suburban Bay Area jobs: 2 386 860
    Suburban Bay Area jobs/resident: 0.414

    Bay Area Population: 6,951,260
    Overall Jobs/resident: 0.454

    Second, what definition of urban would you prefer? If I were to drop the definition to 6000 people per square mile then I would be including clearly suburban places like Campbell (6,800 people/mi ^2) as urban, which seems counterintuitive.

  26. Reedman Says:

    My reading of the statistics and arguments tends to favor building transit
    where the jobs are. Applying that
    to what is shown here tells me that connecting the two biggest job centers
    (Santa Clara and Alameda counties) should be the first priority (if the statistics of
    commute patterns was shown here, it would make a stronger argument). Extending BART southward is consistant with this.

  27. Frequent Amtrak Rider Says:

    Whether it is a monorail or people mover, it is going to be one butt ugly aerial structure running through Oakland. If anyone in Oakland had a clue about transportation, there would be an exclusive right of way for buses constructed on the new access road into the airport. AirBART could have become a mini BRT (bus rapid transit) with distinctive low emission vehicles. The rail AirBART is going to be an expensive eyesore and a political payoff for Oakland. It’s just pathetic that Oakland and Alameda County couldn’t figure out a better way to spend a few hundred million dollars on transit.

  28. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    South Bay Resident, your statistics say that your urban areas provide 127% of the average number of jobs per capita, while suburban areas provide only 91%. That is a significant difference.

  29. BART Fan Says:

    Bruce said: “…we should close all the airports, and then there is no need for the airport connector”.

    Hey, that’s a grand idea. While we’re at it, let’s all just stay home and, instead of just growing our own pot (not that I’m making any assumptions about you), grow all our food in our back yard so we have no need for jobs either. Then we won’t need any form of transportation. Brilliant! I’ll call my Congressman.

  30. Bruce De Benedictis Says:

    That is a tasteless distortion of what I wrote. It does not merit further comment.

  31. Capricious Commuter Says:

    BART Fan, I have to agree with Bruce in that you took what he was saying out of context. What he was saying was, if noxious fumes from buses are an issue, then airport fumes should be cause for an even more draconian response, i.e., closing down the airports.

    That’s like me taking your grow-your-own-food idea seriously and then arguing against it. I could say something like, the problem with our transportion system is that too many people insist on having back yards big enough to grow their own food. If people gave up their .4 acres and lawn tractor and moved to condos within walking distance of their jobs, we wouldn’t have to worry about noxious fumes from cars or buses.

    Of course, my wife made me move to a house with a yard 67 miles from work, and I’m not much of a gardener so I ride a train with a particulate-spewing locomotive every day…

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