Monday, February 16, 2009

Not so stimulating

From the Press-Enterprise, this article points out the road-centric nature of the recent stimulus bill, and it manages to quote some really annoying libertarian folks.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a libertarian, but I can actually respect their position, unlike the Guns-4-Jeezus wing of the Republican party that has recently been ascendant. However, the analyst quoted in this article makes some really, really lousy assumptions.

Mr. Adrian Moore, when asked about the "drawbacks" of public transit, replied that "[in] particular, no one uses it." He also says that road spending "helps more local residents because most people drive."


I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that, literally speaking, Mr. Moore is entirely correct. Very few people use public transport in America, and more people do indeed drive. However, while he states this as simply given, public transit activists like myself see these truths as symptoms of a dysfunctional transportation infrastructure. Public transit is not inherently lousy. People do not eschew transit simply because it is transit. No, people choose to drive (and spend a LOT of money on their automobiles- I just got done talking with a friend about this) because it is the only reasonably convenient mode of transportation here, especially in the Inland Empire. I was out circulating petitions on Thursday and Friday (to oppose the service cuts) and I had SEVERAL people say "Man, the bus service around here sucks. Where I used to live (usually the Bay or back east), I didn't own a car, but I just can't do it here."

There IS demand for a reliable, comprehensive public transit system. There are plenty of people here who would love to be car-free by choice, but it's just simply not an option right now. The system desperately needs reform, and the stimulus plan is a very, very good place to start. It's too bad the IE is getting shafted.

Oh, and RTA, on that whole reliable, comprehensive transit system thing... Build the RapidLink! Omnitrans is doing it. Hell, the 25 will even connect with the planned sbX system. BRT along Magnolia would go a long, long way towards making transit a reasonable alternative here in Riverside.

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