Level playing field

This story in the Houston Chronicle is framed around light rail in Houston, but I think it warrants broader attention.  Essentially, it seems as if the federal government will think about how transit can support more sustainable land use patterns than sprawling suburbs.  By thinking more broadly about how transit can reinforce walkable neighborhoods and not just connect suburbs, the Obama administration stands to make a greater impact on congestion.


One response to “Level playing field

  1. Mr. Fare,
    I like to say that, as a fellow transit rider and policy wonk, I enjoy your blog.
    After the Longhorns lost the National Championship in California, the Austin transit reported, Ben Wear, wrote a story about trying to get around in the LA – Pasadena area. It reminded me of the documentary film “Taken for a Ride” and how the LA area once had an excellent street car system (among other cities.) I’m not sure if you have seen it before, but even if you have it might be worth another look. It is 55 minutes long and also covers LA in around the 18th minute. “Taken for a Ride reveals the tragic and little known story of an auto and oil industry campaign, led by General Motors, to buy and dismantle streetcar lines”

    It is true that the city was facing the need of updating their infrastructure after WW II and had the option of going to the cheaper upfront cost of buses (long run and environmental cost are debatable.) However, having 88% of the (LA) population supporting keeping the rails, it makes me wonder how LA area might be today if the city had listened to the people who actually used public transportation.

    The Pacific Electric Railway served the Los Angeles basin with trolley service through World War II. In 1950, it abandoned most of its lines. The “Red Cars” were junked, stacked and left to rot. Similarly, General Motors targeted over 100 other U.S. cities through its front company, National City Lines.


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