Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hopefully I Can Continue to Drive When Gas is $7 a Gallon

Big story in the New York Times today about a big increase in mass transit riders all across the country.

Transit systems in metropolitan areas like Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco reported similar jumps. In cities like Houston, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and Charlotte, N.C., commuters in growing numbers are taking advantage of new bus and train lines built or expanded in the last few years. The American Public Transportation Association reports that localities with fewer than 100,000 people have also experienced large increases in bus ridership.
This paragraph is notable for some of the cities listed in it. We're not talking about New York, L.A., or D.C. here. These are cities with a lot in common with Kansas City. Of course, what they don't have in common with KC is that they have growing transit systems.

Meanwhile, we seem on the verge of doing absolutley nothing. Some would argue that is fine because nobody in this town is going to use public transportation anyway. The head of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority is quoted in the NYT story, and he talks about the same assumption in his city.
“Nobody believed that people would actually give up their cars to ride public transportation,” said Joseph J. Giulietti, executive director of the authority. “But in the last year, and last several months in particular, we have seen exactly that.”
I'm still hoping that high gas prices will keep the pressure on local leaders to make public transportation happen no matter the obstacles. We might end up being the last ones to the party, but that would be better than never showing up.

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