Yesterday I was driving back to Seattle from the Eastside. I hopped on SR-520 at north Bellevue, and immediately took my place in the line of cars waiting to cross the bridge. The freeway was at a total standstill.
Without AC, my ’88 Chevy POS was getting hotter and hotter. At the same time, I was getting more and more pissed off. I never got this pissed off when riding the commuter bus across the lake. The longer I waited in traffic, the more my mind started to wander.
Right-wingers see transit as an attempt by the “elite” to “force” people into making choices they wouldn’t otherwise make. In the Puget Sound region, our two options are bus or car (or commuter train, for some people). Since our transit system is built on buses which get stuck in traffic, there is little incentive to leave your car at home. Because of this, I’ve been “socially engineered” back into my Chevy. So it’s really the anti-transit folks who take away my choices, and limit my freedom.
We lose productivity and efficiency when we have people in hour-long backups on our freeways. The absence of real alternatives to driving takes away freedom from hardworking folks. Looking at the Sound Transit maps of East Link, I would have been 3/4 of a mile away from a train station, easily in walking distance from my Eastside starting point. Studies show that people will walk much further to a train station than they will a bus stop. From that still-only-on-paper light rail station, it would have been a scant 20 minutes to downtown Seattle.
When we spend big bucks on transit infrastructure, we increase freedom, not decrease it. And you know who understands this better than any Seattle lefty? Try a born-again culture warrior:
Various free market think tanks state that Americans love their automobiles and do not desire rail systems as an alternative. Really?
Each year Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), D.C.’s subway and bus system, reaches a new high in ridership. I have an employee who drove to work. He often was upset upon his arrival. He now lives less than one block from a Metrorail station. He comes to work smiling and continually points to the virtues of the Metrorail system. Metrorail carries close to 600,000 riders per day. Some are tourists but most are workers. If these riders were stranded on the streets of Washington there would be gridlock beyond comprehension.
Many of Free Congress Foundation’s visitors live in the suburbs and take Metrorail and Metrobus. They sing the praises of mass transit. Sure, Americans love their cars. But cars are only good when they are moving.