Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Editorial: High reward, low risk in Chino Valley

The headline is correct as far as it goes. It's far easier and smarter to build public transit system with a municipality than try to graft one on after the need becomes acute.

I hate to be a wet blanket, but Chino Valley is probably the least likely municipality in the area to make a success of public transit, because its large-lot platting and intermittent commercial strip spreads its population and businesses much more thinly.

The likely best result will be an infrequent short-bus schedule specialized for group-home seniors and maybe a few hospital workers, leaving out kids and general riders. There just won't be the money to support a system that residents more than a block away from 89 can practically use. That's not my idea of success. (And I can only imagine how quickly the calls will rise to scrap it all when the first bus gets involved in a collision on 89.)

This is the problem for mass transit everywhere in this country: underbuilding the system with lowball schedules and few destination options inevitably leads to underuse and hasty accusations of failure. Doing it right takes real vision and massive commitment, qualities I fear Americans at large and Arizonans in particular no longer value.


dovh49 said...

I was pretty surprised when I saw this in the news. Seems to be a huge waste of money. If it were not for the federal government grant I'm sure it wouldn't have ever happened.

I think they would have been more successful by making it known to the public that there is a need and encouraging people to set up a website for carpooling. It's easy to spend other people's money. Believe me, being a renter it's easier to ask the landlord to buy stuff than it will be when ever I get around to purchasing.

I like the idea of public transit but I think it's something better left to the private sector (along with roads - I still need to reply to your other blog post on that one) but when roads are subsidized it makes it hard to do public transit especially when we live in such a rich country like ours.

In UT they did a train along the Wasatch front. Yeah, it was pretty cool but it caused more pollution and cost way too much per rider than it was worth. Again, that's what you get when the federal government subsidizes everything, inefficiencies.

Steven Ayres said...

Well I don't know about you, but I've actually lived for years where public transit is taken for granted as a matter of course, used by everyone, largely government-subsidized, and really works. The US is the exception in the developed world in this regard, and suffers for it in ways you can't even comprehend until you've lived with a system that works.