David Brewster writes about transit, and in typical Brewster fashion, he backs into his argument like a garbage truck underneath your window.
The case for transit is not an easy one to make for the voters. Costs are very high, and only a few of the voters live near enough to the lines to get much direct benefit. The trickle-down case is difficult to make, especially since expensive transit systems usually force cutbacks in bus service to pay for the rails. So it’s not surprising that the case is invariably oversold. One of the worst ways it is oversold is to urge people to imagine that these first baby steps, or “starter lines,” will someday grow into a full system, as in larger, older cities.
And think, Brewster is for light rail. While the essay is mostly Brewster ceding ground to the enemy, do read the accompanying piece by Richard Morrill. After reading both pieces, I’m convinced one thing is true: Brewster and Morrill don’t ride the bus often.
Which, it can be said, is a big problem with public transit in Seattle. It has been designed by people who never ride it. Whenever I hear some douchebag on the radio talk about how we should just “put more money into buses” instead of rail, I want to fucking puke.
Buses are slow, slow, slooooooooow. The don’t appeal to new riders in the way rail does. Buses cannot handle large crowds, people with wheelchairs, or tourists asking the driver, “where’d Tom Hanks have lunch?” Whenever something bad happens on a Metro bus, the whole operation grinds to a halt. A fucking halt.
Recently, an attractive brunette got on the bus with her friends. One of her pals asked the brunette, “why don’t you ride the bus more often?” The brunette answered, “because the last time I rode the bus, some guy pooped on the seat.”
So, “the case for rail transit is hard to make”? Whatever. It isn’t for everyday bus riders like me!