Is the grass always greener?
Wed, 08/12/2009 - 10:24am | by mides
Is the grass always greener? In the United States we are usually challenged to use local examples of what a good transportation network looks like. Even NYC and Portland, two usual suspects, have their varied issues. David Lazarus at the LA Times thinks:
I hate to be cynical, but I simply can't imagine political leaders at the local, state or federal level telling voters that they support a big increase in gas taxes, sky-high parking fees and high-density neighborhoods.
So don't hold your breath for a public transportation system that rivals what our friends abroad enjoy. It's not going to happen -- at least not until a majority of us agree that we're prepared to accept the trade-offs necessary to bring about such a wholesale change in how we live and travel.
I am more hopeful that quality of life issues will push this issue and make it relevant for all of us. Imagining a different way of life really is not that much to ask.
Brian Taylor, director of UCLA's Institute of Transportation Studies, said the hardest part isn't constructing the infrastructure for a world-class public transit system. It's creating the necessary incentives to get Americans out of their cars.
New York demonstrates the viability of this notion. Who'd even consider the hassles of driving and parking in Manhattan when you can take the subway instead?
Taylor also believes that gas taxes need to go way up, with much of the money used to fund transit resources. Higher prices at the pump could be offset by a modest reduction in sales taxes.
We realistically can't make every town, neighborhood, and city in America look like NYC. Instead we need to understand community priorities while having an infill process to create higher densities (not always height) to support transit. I see plenty of opportunities for the Twin Cities and the region in regards to a comprehensive transit network that will actually work for its residents.