City What He Said
posted by October 20 at 18:19 PMon
Just in case your eyes aren’t bleeding from my zillion-word post on bus route changes, here’s another transit post—this one about another good reason to vote for light rail. In brief: It creates neighborhoods in a way that buses don’t and can’t. Dan Bertolet:
There have been buses running down Rainier Ave. for more than half a century, but development over those years has been unfocused and highly car-dependent. The difference between buses and fixed guideway transit is that a decade from now the oceans of asphalt parking lot surrounding the McClellan light rail station will be gone, replaced by the mixed-use residential buildings and open spaces of a vibrant new urban village. Over in Bellevue we can expect to see a similar transformation in the Bel-Red Corridor if Proposition 1 passes.
Pretty much any time light rail is proposed anywhere in the U.S, people will impugn it by reducing the total investment to a cost per ride that sounds expensive. Left out of their equation, however, are long-term, systemic and transformative effects that are not easily quantified, but are substantial nonetheless. Others deride the “light rail faithful” for supporting a transit system that doesn’t provide the direct benefit of a stop right outside their own front doors. Similarly, what’s missing with this gripe is the insight to grasp that most light rail proponents recognize the big picture benefits, and are willing to be unselfish.
The benefits of light rail aren’t just for the people who ride it. Transit transforms cities, directs neighborhood development, and makes it easier for everyone to get around—not just the people who live a block away from a transit station.