Monday, August 04, 2008

Thinking About The SUPERTRAIN

This bit from an article about transit ideas in Portland highlights the flawed way many think about mass transit.

There are skeptics, though. Steve Linnell, a senior planner at the Greater Portland Council of Governments, said he doesn't think the region is ready for major changes.

High gas prices hit poor families the hardest. But many middle-class families are able to adjust to the higher prices without changing their lifestyle, he said. And the same holds true for many policy makers, who generally are affluent enough to keep to their same driving habits, he said.

"I am not convinced yet that $4 a gallon gas has made that much of a shift," he said.

To the extent that mass transit is simply a parallel system from getting from A to B, an alternative method of commuting to the highway, it is going to come down to a simple time/cost decision for people. But a more comprehensive mass transit system doesn't simply provide an alternative way to travel where that highway goes, it frees you from the necessity of car ownership. Of course a transit system, even an excellent one, isn't enough to get you there. You also need to create walkable neighborhoods around major transit stops.