Safety, Service, Convenience
Safety, service, convenience. Those are the three principal requirements for metropolitan mass transportation systems, if they want to compete successfully with cars. We’re failing on all three measures. Just see the accounts of Wednesday night’s experience on Metro: "Bad Night on the Green Line,"http://tinyurl.com/ba5p9pm; "2000 Green Line Riders Stranded on Trains for Hours After Equipment Along Track Catches Fire," http://tinyurl.com/bxodup4; "Major Rush Hour Trouble for Riders on Metro’s Green Line," http://tinyurl.com/9wk9eym; "Navy Yard Rush Hour Delay Leaves Thousands Stranded on Green Line," http://tinyurl.com/aatoo46.
If you have a choice, you’ll choose a transportation method that gets you where you want to go, when you want to get there, with some measure of safety. You’ll also factor in cost and comfort. If you have a choice, you won’t be stuck for hours in a dark tunnel filled with smoke, with no idea of what the problem is or when it will be solved. You won’t choose a transportation system that blames its own patrons when they try to escape a dark, smoke-filled tunnel under their own initiative, when the system hasn’t taken any initiative on its own. When you plan a short, local weekend trip for fun, your first choice won’t be a system where your first question will always have be how many hours will be added to your trip by service outages and delays.
Our transportation planners’ solution to the problems of our mass transportation system is to pile on more difficulties, difficulties, and costs for using automobiles, thinking they can make the mass transportation option more attractive by comparison. They reduce parking availability and close automobile lanes to car traffic in order to force people to use mass transportation.
If we had urban planners and transportation planners who looked at the situation through the right end of the binoculars, they would try to make mass transportation more attractive, instead of making individual driving less attractive. Make mass transportation safer, improve the service, and make it more convenient. Keep the costs down instead of increasing them every few months, as safety and service deteriorate. Do that and the riders will flock to your system.
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