Thursday, July 24, 2008

10 Lame Reasons to Delay Mass Transit

Who knew that discussions about mass transit could be so funny? Check out this excerpt from a guest column in the Seattle Times by Mayor and Sound Transit Board chair Greg Nickels:

As Sound Transit prepares to move forward with a proposal for the November ballot, there are those who favor more investments in mass transit, just not this year. We have helpfully compiled a "top 10" list of the reasons to wait:

10) Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it. A two-year delay will enable us to hear from those who are still mustering up the courage to make up their minds.

9) True, the 15-year Sound Transit plan would add light rail, commuter rail and regional buses. If we wait two years, though, it might include hydrogen-powered, personal hovercrafts. That'd be cool.

8) Local media need an infusion of advertising cash from a certain Eastside shopping center developer who wants another two years to tell you that freeways are still the best transportation for the region. No matter what.

7) More debate will give us more information. There's so much more to discuss, it just seems premature to have a vibrant light-rail system after only 40 years of talking about it.

6) There is so much room for new highways, it just makes sense to build new lanes. Interstate 5 through downtown Seattle seems like it is ripe for a little widening. And the Eastside and Montlake are united in wanting a bigger Highway 520, right? Right? Oh, wrong.

5) Mass transit is popular. So popular, you may not have a seat on the bus. But standing all the way home improves your calf muscles and physical stamina. This strength-building exercise works even better in high heels.

4) You can worry more about climate change. Need an extra two years to get your head around species collapse and widespread global drought? Waiting for mass transit will give you time to bone up on the latest news about how our indecision and bad habits are torching the planet. Books on tape are great for the car!

3) By waiting two years, we can do the same project but spend about $1 billion more. With the price of everything going up — steel, concrete, gas — a delay will cost big bucks. But indecision is worth it. Isn't it?

2) Congestion will only get worse. That leaves more time in the car to listen to talk-radio hosts jawbone about the lack of transportation alternatives.

And the No. 1 reason why we should wait for mass transit ...

1) Pumping the car with $70 of gasoline feels more special when there isn't an alternative. Let's face it — gas prices aren't coming down. Why ruin gas-station heartburn by giving people a way out of their cars and into light rail?