Saturday, December 6, 2008

Enough with the "roads and bridges" already

I swear if I hear "roads and bridges" one more time in a news story about infrastructure spending, I'm gonna hurt somebody. And I'm not the only one.

Yes, it's a good idea to reduce unemployment by providing public sector jobs. And as these not-unemployed people earn paychecks and spend them, they pay taxes and create (or maintain) jobs for others. I'd even say that there are essential roads and bridges that are in danger of falling apart and killing people, so we should put some of these people to work fixing or rebuilding them.

However, what we should not spend money on is anything that increases highway or parking capacity. Obama says that his plan would be the biggest infrastructure spending plan since the Interstate Highway System; well, the Interstate Highway system is a big part of what got us into this mess.

If we hadn't spent so much on highways, it wouldn't have been so cheap for people to live fifty or a hundred miles from their jobs with no rapid transit to get them there. If we hadn't spent so much on roads and bridges, we wouldn't have neighborhoods where hundreds of people can't walk to get a quart of milk. If we hadn't spent so much on roads and bridges, we might have had more for trains and buses. Housing wouldn't have gotten overvalued to the point where $4/gallon gas popped the bubble.

The time to turn this battleship is now. Obama should not continue the mistakes of the past. We've built enough roads and bridges, thank you. For at least the next ten years, all new infrastructure should be for railroads, bus depots, busways, cycle tracks and sidewalks, and the Big Three need to start making trains and buses.

The next time you read or hear "roads and bridges," try to leave a comment asking to replace those words with "trains and buses." There's a ton of people out there who are sick of sprawl, and there's a lot of work to be done to give them affordable alternatives to it.


Peter said...


Anonymous said...

Yeah what the hell? My hopes have been dashed every youtube address. What would it cost to mention transit? Nothing. (People like to hear about it more than they like to pay for it, that is another problem.) I don't get it. But then, until actual funding decisions are being made, this is just theater (for a still-confused audience).

Yury said...

I think you are too much.

Have you heard about Amish ?
Maybe you need to join their community. I know a nice place in Bloomsburg, PA where they live.
They don't use corded electricity (batteries only), they don't drive (only ride horses), they are not allowed to have a telephone on their property, they don't do and don't need many things that are mandatory for the rest of the world in 21st century.

Cap'n Transit said...

Yury, for your benefit I have now put the basic assumptions of this blog in the blog description. Now you have no excuse.

Yury said...

I'm happy that what is discussed here will never come true.
So good luck :-)
Public transportation is for poor people who cannot afford even a piece of crap 20 year old car at least. Except for rides to Manhattan where driving is really pain in a neck.
I hate public transportation and CARS ARE GOOD :-)))

Cap'n Transit said...

Yury, I could own three of your cars if I wanted. Money is not the reason I don't have one - although it sure is nice to spend my money on other things than gas, repairs and parking.

Yury said...

When they finally come up with a fully electric cars that consume no gas at all, would you buy one?

Yury said...

To me money is not the reason either.
1) I just dont want to see ugly faces in the subway and I told you two times about freezing balls when waiting for a bus/train.
2) Driving is my lifestyle, it's like a drug, I can't live without it.
3) When I go for skiing in Catskills I can only imagine myself wasting half a day just to get there on a train. By the way the nearest train station there like 10-15 miles away and there are no buses at all.
I heard there is a bus from Manhattan to Catskill skiing areas but it sucks and waste of time and no freedom: you have to catch that bus otherwise you will have to stay there overnight.
I can give you plenty of reasons why THE CARS ARE GOOD and convinient and I'm sure you can give me a lot of reasons towards the opposite.
It's your choice.

Cap'n Transit said...

Yury, there are plenty of reasons why cars are bad - even electric ones. I don't want to get into a debate about them here, though. This blog is not so much about why cars are bad, but what to do about it.

I understand your point about freezing your balls. In Chicago they have heaters in the el stations and bus stops. Maybe we should have some of those here.

Also, in Switzerland they have trains that go to most of the ski areas. There used to be trains to the Catskills too; maybe one day they'll be reactivated.

Yury said...

The link for "plenty of reasons" you provided is not valid.

"The page cannot be found"

Cap'n Transit said...

Hm. Try this one.

Yury said...

Trains and buses run on their schedules. Car can be driven anywhere and anytime on your leasure. So, screw the trains.

Convinient life is what America is about.

Before attempting to get rid of cars you should COMPLETE an excellent railroad infrastructure. The one like they have in Europe or better.

But driving still consumes less of my time anywhere I go.

Cap'n Transit said...

"Car can be driven anywhere and anytime on your leasure."

Yeah, I'll remember that next time I'm stuck in traffic for 45 minutes on the Grand Central.

It's not the car that provides convenience, flexibility or freedom, it's the infrastructure. Car infrastructure is expensive and unsustainable; train infrastructure is not. That's why our economy has gone down the tubes, and that's why we shouldn't waste any more money on new road construction.

Yury said...

"Yeah, I'll remember that next time I'm stuck in traffic for 45 minutes on the Grand Central."

I thought you don't drive :-)
There is always a way around. I go local streets while those fools stand in traffic :-)
You have to know the local geography to survive in New York.

And , as per history, economy raised after The Great Depression together with the interstate road infrastructure. And this infrastructure helped moving business a lot.

Yury said...

I'm just really bored at work and I have another 45 minutes to sit here, so I hope you don't mind us talking :-)

Yury said...

And then after midnight I will be driving home and thanking Robert Moses for great idea :-)
If I didn't have a car, I would have to take a bus to the AirTrain, then AirTrain, then subway A, then S, then Q and arrive home like 3am. Screw that, seriously.

Cap'n Transit said...

I don't drive very much; I was in a taxi. Since then I've taken the subway.

I understand why you have a car and why you use it to commute, but we need to start planning to use less gas, pollute less, kill less people on the roads and rebuild our neighborhoods. Rebuilding and expanding highways and car bridges is exactly the wrong way to go. I don't want to keep paying for the Belt to be upgraded while they cut back on subway service.

I'm going to bed, Yury. Have a good night.

Yury said...

Good night!