Lessons from a Transit Strike
Transit strikes happen. When they happen in New York, Chicago, Boston, or Philadelphia, the nation takes notice. The transit strike in Denver didn't measure quite as high on National Radar. But it should have made a much bigger blip in other places like Detroit, Kansas City, and Austin. Why? Denver is a western town that has only in the past five to ten years or so been able to see the benefits of Light Rail. And this strike made those benefits crystal clear.
The Denver Post reports the increase in traffic and the attitudes of drivers during the strike. "Stop and Go Nightmare" and "Red Light Blues" are two of the descriptive expressions used.
After the strike, another Denver Post article reported on opinions about the benefits of Light Rail. Scroll down to see what one Light Rail patron had to say.
But the real capper was an editorial from Diane Carman. Scroll down to Items 2 and 5. Diane nails the "anti-FasTracks crowd" as wrong! You may recall that FasTracks was the ballot issue in last November's election in the Denver area where voters were asked to approve a Sales Tax increase for continued rail commuter construction, including both Light Rail and Commuter Rail. It was approved above the same "rant and rave" that is heard in every election where the voters are asked to spend money for rail transit.
So here's the lesson for those of you in Detroit, Kansas City, and Austin. Read Diane Carman again and understand fully what she is saying. The lesson is there. It is this:
There are VERY strong and intrenched special interest groups that DO NOT want Light Rail or Commuter Rail to be built. Car Manufacturers and Dealers, Insurance Companies, Paving Contractors and Suppliers, and even small businesses like Tire Dealers band together and tell you that no one will ride these trains, that they are expensive, and that they won't make a difference. They will refer to statistics that point out misleading information about the percentage of traffic removed from streets and roads.
They are wrong.
People WILL ride Light Rail or Commuter Rail when they won't ride a bus. The riders on these trains WILL reduce auto traffic. And, the ultimate cost to the commuting population WILL go down.
To those urban areas still debating this issue, learn from Diane and from Denver. Spend the money for rail. Make life better.