Sunday, April 20, 2008

A pro-mass transit column? Could it be?

Something like this doesn't really get to the heart of why Gwinnettians remain so pig-ignorant about the need for comprehensive mass transit, but it'll have to do for now.

To say the only people to benefit from commuter rail are developers is inaccurate. Even people who choose not to use the rail line will benefit from fewer cars on the road and fewer carbon emissions spewing into the air we breathe. Commuters and students who would choose rail over roads if given the option enjoy a commute that is 25 times safer and gives them the ability to safely use their cell phones to talk, text or laptops during their ride.

True, the automobile is highly flexible, but is also subject to the wide disparities in daily commute times based on traffic accidents, weather, holiday volume, increasing truck traffic and the stress that goes with it. Commuter rail service and its riders are immune to all of that.

Along with soaring fuel prices, I believe actual ridership numbers for commuter rail service will far exceed all projections.
This argument goes to the heart of what I've been trying to get through every thick skull I've encountered Down Here: that by promoting mass transit, you're getting drivers who do not want to be on the road, off the road. I don't know why that's such a difficult concept for folks to grasp, but I have to attribute it to long standing tribal loyalties, lingering, xenophobic fears, and a flat-out terror that one day, that might actually be Thick Skull riding the bus, himself, rubbing sholders with Those People.

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