Public Transit...The Poor Stepchild to Highways ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Monday, March 10, 2008

Public Transit...The Poor Stepchild to Highways

The Maryland Public Interest Research Group (MaryPIRG) is pushing our state government to direct more transportation dollars toward public transit rather than to highways and roads. CP has only just seen the executive summary, but so far, it's a bit spooky because it focuses on rail. Buses and bus rapid transit can meet many of our needs much sooner than and for less money than can rail. Of course we need to plan and invest in rail, but what do we do in the decades it takes to get a new rail line going?

See the MaryPIRG report here:

The Capital appears to be coming to understand that transit is indeed vastly underfunded when compared to roads and highways. However, reporter Andrew Childers makes the common and oft-repeated mistake of referring to the "county's lackluster 8 percent ridership for public transportation". Well, first of all, eight percent is nothing to laugh about. Eight percent of anything really big, and commuting in this county is really big, is in and of itself, a big thing. Second of all, is it not ironic to build and build roads and essentially ignore transit and then point to transit and say "See, it's not being used!" That's like saying nobody is swimming at the beaches in Alaska or snow skiing in Louisiana. Transit is more heavily used in places where it is more heavily offered and available. That should come as no surprise.

He writes about rail and buses and the attractive options for buses, yet as Mr. Childers usually does, he ignores contacting local experts, including yours truly--despite the fact that I was the only resident of Annapolis (in addition to Aldermen Stankivic and Shropshire) to testify on this very same issue when he covered it a week ago at a House hearing!

Overall, this was a good article, but I encourage Mr. Childers to seek out the many local experts on this topic, as Earl Kelly of The Capital has done.


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