Transit stuff #1: Light rail in Portland has issues too
But I am behind...
Still there are a couple of other interesting developments in the transit arena that are worth reading, considering.
The Austin American-Statesman has a very long piece about light rail in Portland, Oregon ("Portland light rail's mixed track record" and how it isn't smooth sailing in terms of funding issues as well as resistance to expansion on the part of often conservative suburban counties.
In a separate email discussion, I made the point that the DC region has similar issues, and even DC. This is what I wrote:
We have those same issues in the DC region. I think it's insane, some of the anti-rail opposition to the Purple Line especially (but also to streetcars in Northern Virginia) as it is not like the DC area lacks experience with the success of transit. In fact we have scads of sucessful examples, especially in DC.
The reason that much of the core of the city is successful now is because of the concentration of 31 Metro stations--even though the system was designed for suburbanites, at the core it works monocentrically for the benefit of the city itself.
But what really saddens me is that we have the same kinds of political dynamics within the city as well ("DC as a suburban agenda dominated city"), both in terms of progressives expressing anti-rail attitudes toward streetcars (although now I am less enamored of streetcars, though still supportive, because I think we should focus on intra-city heavy rail expansion) and the outer city (the parts outside of Wards 1, 2, and 6--the original L'Enfant City is comprised mostly of Wards 2 and 6) which is dominated by much more suburban attitudes toward mobility and automobile primacy vs. the inner city or core city of Washington, where walking, biking, transit, car sharing, density and relatively short distances between home and work make getting around a car practical and efficient..
Anyway, it happens I am preparing a piece on these issues, in response to a recent BBC piece on DC's revivification ("Washington DC from murder capital to boomtown"), because unfortunately that article ascribes most of the success to an influx of population starting in the late 1990s, and misses the point that the foundation of DC's success is built on the period from the 1960s to the mid 1990s, when people with choices were still attracted to urban living because of:
1. historic building stock in the city's neighborhoods in and around the city's core
2. (for the US) a deep transit infrastructure which allows people, at least in the core, to get around without having to rely on owning an automobile
3. the steady employment and contracting engine of the federal government
4. and the concentration of federal employment centers in DC's core and/or proximate to transit.
At least with regard to streetcars in DC, I am hoping, once the system starts operating for real, no later than the first quarter of 2015, that some of the opposition within the city will start to wane.