Tuesday, September 9, 2014

False Choices for Transportation

A regular refrain from transit advocates is about how we the taxpayers must provide more “choice” in transportation.

Who can possibly be against choice?

To the transit advocates, their vision of choice is mode of transportation. Train, light rail, bus, bike, walk, car are the modes they most often cite.

While we're talking choice, can I have my Ferrari? Please?

Tomorrow I may want to chose a dirigible. I'm sure we can attract some tourists and economic development dollars for that.

The Hindenburg was a bad choice for some
We're still waiting for flying cars.

Paid for by the taxpayer. Just like the investments that the transit advocates want for their preferred modes of transportation.

This fixation on mode of transportation is a fallacy.

Choice of mode is the wrong “choice” question to ask about transportation.

The right “choice” questions are
  • When do you chose to leave?
  • Where do you chose to go?
Trains, light rail, and buses limit your choice on when to leave. They (necessarily) constrain the schedule so you have to leave to catch the rail, bus, etc. when they leave... not when you chose to leave.

Likewise, trains, light rail, and buses limit choice on where to go. Trains and buses only go where trains and bus are routed, not the passengers destinations, each of which is unique. Yes, some passengers may transfer, hop and skip to a different mode of local transportation to finally arrive at your chosen destination, limited to within a comfortable walking distance from a transit stop. However, they did not make that choice. The central planners made the choice for them.

Bike and walking have flexibility on schedule, since most anyone can take a walk or hop on a bike any time. But there are only so many places within walking or biking distance, limiting choices on destinations. Choices on where to shop, buy groceries, get the best deal, visit friends, go to work, where to play, etc. are constrained by a reasonable distance of biking or walking, not to mention inclement weather conditions.

Few downtown Tampa residences will be riding their bikes, walking or taking transit to the Pinellas beaches any time soon.

If they want to chose when they go and where they go, they'll take a car.

If they want the most choices for shopping or entertainment, to find the best deal amongst many retailers, over a 30 minute radius from home, there are more choices for shopping or entertainment driving a car.

Tampa drivers choosing when and where to go
If they want the most choices for jobs, to work at the best place amongst many employers, over a 30 minute radius from home, there are more job opportunities using a car. Hillsborough county jobs are quite dispersed across 1100 square miles and the automobile nosbstill the best way to get to work.

Likewise, the distance and mode of commuting opens up a wider choice of where to live, rather than requiring workers to live near the job, and constraining their choices for housing.

Go ahead, take the bus, or walk or bike if that's you're choice. That's fine. Not everyone wants to drive, or can drive.

Transit gets you from point A to point B.

We need transportation solutions that gets you... and the rest of us... from point A to point Z, and any destinations we chose in between, on our chosen schedule.

That involves roads and automobiles.

We should build the real choices of when and where we go into our transportation plans.

Opening up choices for when and where to go, expanding opportunities for employment, retail, entertainment is the real economic driver for Hillsborough County.

You get to choose when and where to go.  Who can be against that?

Otherwise, you don't really have a choice, do you?

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