Working to improve Atlanta's quality of life through smart growth
Is there a silver bullet train solution?
There are no silver bullets; nor are there silver bullet trains.
That is the crux of a recent Economist blog that responded to a Businessweek article about the emergence of Megabus service. Businessweek suggested Megabus may be a free market response to limited long-distance travel options that will revolutionize the industry and undermine the President’s ambitious plans to develop a high-speed rail network.
As The Economist blog notes, government subsidizes many of forms of transportation and has most notably subsidized air and ground travel at far greater rates than rail service.
Much has been made ofFlorida’s rejection of federal money to jump-start high-speed rail in the state. In the final analysis, it may very well not make the most sense to try to subsidize high-speed rail inFloridawhen other travel corridors in the Northeast, theMidwestor even other part of the Southeast have a more pronounced need.
Both the article and the blog look dubiously at the proposedTampatoOrlandoproject.
The lesson in this media tit-for-tat is that government does play an important role in identifying transportation priorities that help keepAmericaon the move. The key is for government to take a balanced approach based upon what meets the greatest need in particular corridor. Most likely, a blend of approaches will be needed.
While high-speed rail has generated a lot of headlines nationally, metroAtlantais having its own conversation about its transportation future.
My organization, the Livable Communities Coalition, has launched its Fair Share for Transit initiative to help prepare metroAtlantafor the looming transportation vote.
The referendum, scheduled for summer 2012, will ask voters whether they wish to use a one-penny ten-year sales tax to fund transportation improvements throughout the region – or not.
We feel there is a general consensus in the region that we can no longer afford to move about the region on our existing transportation network.
Moreover, our own poll conducted in 2010 shows there is support for an appropriate blend of transportation solutions.
Our Fair Share for Transit is focused on ensuring that transit would receive significant financial support in the event the referendum passes. In our view, a Fair Share for Transit means anywhere from 40 to 60 percent. Improving areas around transit centers by making those areas more walkable should also be included in that 40 to 60 percent.
This process brings to mind the Dyson vacuum cleaner commercials in which the company’s found James Dyson articulates quite brilliantly his company’s mission: “Solve the obvious problems others seem to ignore.”
There are a lot of obvious problems in our current transportation network. Delivering a more sophisticated transit system to the area is one obvious problem we can address, so let’s chip away at the obvious problems in order to make metro Atlanta greater.