The Inconvenient Truth about the Inconvenience of Public Transit

So Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) has launched a campaign for a clean commute this week.

This is a great effort on their part to encourage people to ride the bus, take the light rail, carpool, vanpool, bike or wallk. As nice as this sounds for the environment, I cant help but think about the four lane highway (speed limit 45mph) that connects to my apartment complex (Harris Blvd). I dont think they realize how many people live 10 to 15 miles away from their jobs and are reliant on cars to get them there. This is just the kind of campaign we need right now to get people in the right mindset of change…..but…here’s the inconvenient truth about the inconvenience of public transit

When you encourage people to use transit, you have to create an environment conducive to it. By that i mean traffic calming, crosswalks, sidewalks, pedestrian bridges and most importantly….

STOP BUILDING NEW HIGHWAYS.

I know this is a lot to ask for at this point of development but let’s step back and take a look at recent trafic trends in Charlotte.

  • increase in hit and runs
  • increase in pedestrian fatalities
  • daily congestion on main arteries  (I-85 and I-77)

People are starting to compare the traffic in Charlotte to that of Atlanta….and we all know how I feel about Atlanta (unsustainable)

The first interstate highways were created in America in the 1940s (Pennsylvania Turnpike). Commuter rail, which carries passengers over a longer distance in a short time, was not introduced until the early 1970s (Bay Area Rapid Transit). This young form of transit is still in its infant stages while the interstate highway withstood an entire generation of growth, change and development. Further, commuter rail is successful in D.C. San Francisco and Portland.  It might be time to move away from single passenger expansion and move towards a more sustainable type of land development.  Much like many other trends in America, the trend of highway transportation escalated fast and quickly got out of control. In fact, our population cannot keep up with our growth of land use. Technology cannot keep up with our highway development and now financial systems follow suit. Did I see a toll road the last time I drove to Raleigh. When will it end?

I commend CATS on its installation of future LYNX Light Rail stations and I cannot wait to be a passenger. This reaction is not an attack on Charlotte public transit at all…but more of a critique on the history of our land development and uses.

I encourage you all to take a clean commute on Thursday. I WILL be driving though so let me know how it goes!

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