December 28, 2004
Looping around the Rice Village

Via Anne, I see that Metro is thinking about a shuttle that would serve the Rice Village/Medical Center area. Just for the record, I thought of it first.

To provide a slightly different perspective than what is expressed there, it seems to me that a short-route shuttle would (along with the light rail) serve the area better than a bus route would have. For one thing, a short route means more frequent service, possibly with smaller, cheaper vehicles, depending on the ridership projections. And as I said before, this is something where the merchants of the Village could be enlisted to help, since their current alternative is charging customers to park.

As for the contention that publicly-financed rail systems benefit a few a lot but cost everybody a little, it seems to me that one could say the same thing about any publicly-financed projects, including roads. How many of my gas-tax dollars are funding constructions or expansions in far-flung suburbs, none of which I'm likely to use? I guarantee I've already taken the light rail more often than I'll ever drive on any part of the Grand Parkway. Even the great boondoggle known as the Katy Freeway expansion will have little direct benefit to me, since I almost never drive it west of Highway 6 and might not even venture on it west of Loop 610 more than once or twice in a normal month. Yet even though I think there's a better way to do that project, I'd never argue that since it will benefit some people a lot more than others it shouldn't be done at all. I say it all evens out in the end, or at least it should. There may be other reasons to advocate against these things, but that's not a line of argument I'm willing to accept.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 28, 2004 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack

Anne never fails to hit me as anything less than pissy.

At least when she's bitching about Metro she's NOT bitching about the Chronic.

Posted by: PDiddie on December 28, 2004 6:40 PM

What you (Chuck) say is true to a certain degree. A gas tax, though, is levied on drivers of cars, whereas METRO funds their buses and train through a sales tax, which is levied on everyone in the METRO service area.

Although I've paid METRO taxes (one percent) on just about everything I've spent in Houston, I've never set foot on a METRO bus.

I drive on the Sam Houston and Westpark Toll Roads and pay for that each time.

Posted by: Rob Booth (Slightly Rough) on December 29, 2004 6:27 AM

PDiddie: Way to go personal! Who would ever want to discuss issues when we can make personal slams?! Who else don't you like, while you're at it? And if it's such a bother, why read it? Do you also poke yourself in the eye with forks and bitch that it hurts?

Charles: I think to conflate the notion that some roads don't benefit you personally with the notion that roads benefit relatively few people (especially when compared to rail in a city with our density) is mistaken.

There are certainly cases to be made for public transit -- i.e. that an affluent society should subsidize the mobility of the less well off, that we should look for environmentally friendly transit solutions, that we should work to reduce congestion, etc.

However, it strikes me that subsidizing the affluent folks of West U to feed the rail line doesn't necessarily address any of those points above.

Now, if the real goal is to create a pedestrian friendly, NY/London style rail city, that's one thing. But that seems a somewhat different discussion (one about the type of city we want to create, rather than specific problems we hope to address through public policy, and the relative costs/benefits of addressing those problems in different ways).

Posted by: kevin whited on December 29, 2004 9:02 AM

First, not all of the Metro taxes go to the bus system.

Second, a functional public transportation benefits drivers, too. If an extra 20 people decide to commute by bus from the Woodlands to downtown, that could be one bus occupying space on I-45 instead of 20 cars. The extra space is a benefit to the other commuters from the Woodlands who decide to drive.

Third, the Toll Roads induce mileage driven per person and extra trips [i]even outside[/i] of the tollroads. There's hardly any user tax for driving.

We drive, not by choice. We drive because our public policy is to subsidize driving.

Posted by: uberman on December 29, 2004 9:16 AM

Well, I don't care much for YOU, since you asked...

Posted by: PDiddie on December 29, 2004 6:53 PM