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July 23, 2008


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I know that the Washington Policy Center have gotten a lot of play, at least in conservative circles, over their "study" which claims to show light rail is extremely expensive. Nevermind that much of there "study" has been countered by people who actually understand the issue. Do they get as much air-time and space from local media as the Goldwater Institute gets down here in Phoenix?

Fortunately, no.

I agree with you. However, light rail systems are not a universal unqualified success: witness Buffalo NY, where the light rail system has had continually declining ridership as the city continues to implode.

May I be bold enough to say that transport itself is the problem, regardless of whether by road or rail. Yes, I'll agree that a bus is more efficient than equivalent number of cars and a rail is sometimes more efficient than a bus (better for long hauls where passengers all want to get off at the same stop, worse for when passengers all want different stops).

However, if it were a REQUIREMENT that people lived close to work, then they would do so (and all the regulations, zoning and infrastructure would be designed to support that). If businesses were ONLY able to get employees by putting up an office near residential areas then they would make it happen.

The entire concept of shipping millions of kilos of human to arbitrary locations every morning, just to ship them back again every evening would seem quite insane to someone looking in from space.

Back in the day when long distance transport was slow and expensive, people found ways to cope. Now that transport is cheap and fast, other issues become more important and transport is just the thing that takes up the slack. Making more infrastructure to create cheaper, more efficient transport will just give people more opportunity to be inefficient in other areas.

Tel's comments are interesting but absent some central authority that mandates people living close to their work, they're also beside the point. We can do little things like congestion pricing without making government obnoxiously intrusive. Making the government regulate individual congestion really crosses a line no 1st World polity has ever done.

Modern cities allow

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