Walk, don't run
Peter Eichenberger hit it right when he said that mass transit is not magic, but needs to be part of a multifaceted strategy ("Another four-letter word for January's gridlock: City," Feb. 2). The train thing may or may not get built, but there are other small steps that would help any type of transit, steps that we should start allowing, encouraging and maybe legislating. Such as requiring or persuading stores, shopping centers and office structures to have at least one side close to a road, instead of floating in the distance in a huge sea of parking lot. That way, a bus could pick up or drop off passengers at this site without taking a time-wasting detour off a regular route. The people on that bus may have also taken a train in their commute, but in any case, the bus becomes more efficient without the circuitous side trips. This is the type of small difference that makes mass transit in cities work; it can't hurt to integrate such things into current ex-urban development plans.
I have also wondered why there is so little integration of food, retail and service businesses with work and residential areas. Is this a zoning issue?
My last office job was at a building on a public connector road that had a string of office buildings where perhaps 3,000 people worked. Yet there was not a restaurant, store or service of any kind (a day care certainly would have done well) anywhere on that road, in spite of many empty fields and more offices being built. In fact, there was nothing but a gas station within three miles!
I would really like to know, is it illegal to have a retail business in such areas? With our usually pleasant climate, people could actually have a choice to walk to a lunch spot or a drug store instead of getting in a vehicle of any sort. What a concept!
Billion dollar boondoggle
Raleigh's snowjam was hardly one tiny error in judgement. It was a mutual error of the school system and the weather forecasters, compounded by a few hundred thousand trusting idiots. It was also a repeat performance of an identical event in Atlanta in 1982 (only much larger, since Atlanta is an actual city).
They survived and so will we.
But using snowfall to justify public transit? Regardless of cost? Yes, the convention center is a white elephant, a pointless waste of money--agreed. But that doesn't mean you should send good money after bad.
This abomination will cost about a billion bucks, and it can't even get to the airport. It's a perfect solution for centralized 1905, not amorphous 2005.
The roads are a mess because government gives them away for free. If roads were managed like a utility, such as electric power, we could establish a market pricing for roads. This would eventually lead to a better connection between supply, demand and costs than is possible with government taxing what it can, spending what it wants and pocketing the difference.
Don't compound one government boondoggle with an even worse version of the same. You got the disease, but you missed the cure.
Due to an editing error, last week's article on state Sen. Clark Jenkins contained incorrect information about funding for the Triangle Transit Authority. For the region's first commuter-rail project, the TTA is asking the federal government for 59.9 percent of the project's costs, now estimated at $631 million, leaving 40.1 percent to come from state and local revenues.