Public transportation . . .

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 6:53 am

In Singapore public transportation works.  It’s an easy, clean, inexpensive, safe and convenient way to get from one place to another – more or less.

That said, new public transportation on any scale in the United States will always be an absolute failure.  It will waste hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, to cover just a small percentage of an area.  As a country, we’d be better off investing in fuel-efficient diesel-hybrid engines, thorium reactors, and quick-charge batteries than anything that sounds like streetcars, light or high-speed rail. 

However, if you’re city or region is considering this option, here are some questions that should be asked:

1.   If you look up in the sky, can you see it?  If you can see the sky, the trains will be empty because not enough people live where you want to put the train.  Only build these things where you CAN’T see the sky because of all the tall buildings, otherwise it will FAIL.

2.  Are people in  your area polite to one another and do they respect people they do not know?  Will the people in your area leave the train clean?  Will they not listen to loud music and scream into their cell phones?  Will they give up their seat for the elderly, pregnant women, or small children?  Are pickpockets caught, prosecuted, caned, and jailed?  If you cannot answer yes to all these questions, it will FAIL.

3.  Is traffic COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY gridlocked?  If you don’t have COMPLETE AND TOTAL gridlock twenty-four hours a day, you don’t need public transportation.  If you think you have a lot of traffic only during the morning and evening rush hours and your city officials want to build light rail to alleviate the congestion, the new system will FAIL.

4.  If your city wants to build public transportation to help the environment, it will FAIL.  Just wanting a smaller carbon footprint is no reason to waste $1 billion taxpayer dollars.  It would make more sense to buy 40,000 residents a new VW Jetta TDI.  ( Buying 40,000 of that Prius thing would just make things worse.  http://hubpages.com/hub/Prius )

5.  Are you going to use the public transportation to get your residents to a new casino?  http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20101015/NEWS0108/10160328/1055/NEWS/Streetcar-groundwork-to-start–   Do you really want it to succeed?  Yes, casinos are arguably entertainment, but they are also a tax on folks who can’t do math.  The casinos will win in the long run and the street cars will FAIL.

6.  Do all your stores have parking lots?  If they do, public transportation will FAIL.  A walk across a Target parking lot is longer than the one between the two bus stops on our street.  That means, best case, public transportation drops you at the traffic light and you have a 5-10 minutes walk to your destination, just to cross the parking lot.  Then you need to walk back to the bus stop with your purchase and hope you return home before the milk turns to mayonnaise.

7.  Are the proponents of the public transportation system trying to renew an urban area that has suffered from neglect, crime, decreasing populations and blight?  Then it will FAIL.  Public transportation will only make a good and growing area better, it will not reverse the tides of decades of bad civic decision-making.  A subway or light rail is a luxury that only a successful city should even consider investing in.  Otherwise, the system just provides criminals with another escape route and more victims.

8.  Do you have roads that already offer an efficient solution?  If so, your public transportation system will FAIL.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio_Hub   Why would I take the train from Cincinnati to Columbus when I can drive it in 90 minutes?  When I reach Columbus do I need to rent a car to get to my final destination?  How is that efficient?

9.  Are the passengers you are trying to transport Americans?  If so, it will FAIL.  Americans are independent and don’t like to adhere to schedules.  We like the individuality our cars provide and the ability to change our plans at the last-minute.  We don’t like to wait in lines, sit next to people we don’t know, or hear other people’s kids ask if we are there yet.  Imagine what happens when the TSA folks from the airport are put in charge of the rail system.  You’ll need to get to the train station two hours early, leave your nail clippers at home, then you can check your luggage and conveniently wait 45 minutes in Columbus to find out your bag went to Toledo.

Public transporation can work, it just depends on the area.  Communities need to remember these simple questions before the boondoggle begins.

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