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Yet More Transit

Saw a quick article last week where our newish county executive (Suffolk, NY) is pushing for improvements to bus service in the busier western third of the county.  Fast Buses, I think he said, as opposed to the apparently slow ones we have now.  Sounds nice, of course.

Naturally, when you look at what he is proposing, one sees the flaws.  He is trotting out the tired old idea of dedicated, segregated bus lanes.  That is, they build lanes behind partitions – or, more often, just partition off existing lanes – letting the buses float along as if they were light-rail trains running on tracks, without any traffic worries.

What always happens, of course, even if they actually do build completely new lanes alongside the existing roads, is that the new lanes end up restricting car traffic, making it harder to make turns and such.  And if they take over existing lanes for this, that compresses all that car traffic into fewer lanes or, at best, narrower lanes.

What they will tell you, of course, is that with dedicated bus lanes, fewer people will drive themselves, opting for the comfort and convenience of rapid mass transit.  That may be true, but the exact figure is very important, because history  has shown that improvements to mass transit only manage to pluck a few people out of their cars.  So, when you constrict auto traffic and only lose, say, five percent of the cars, you have a recipe for gridlock and longer commutes.

I have said if before: mass transit is a religion, relying on faith and not fact, and most people support mass transit because they want EVERYBODY ELSE to get off the road so that they can drive faster.  It is cars, freely chosen and purchased by the people, that put the original private mass transit providers out of business.  It is what people want, it is what they find more convenient.

So, Mr. Supervisor, if you think you can find the space and the money to build new lanes, then do that.  Don’t build bus lanes, just build more lanes.  Or, better yet, don’t spend the money – let private concerns build private toll lanes and charge for their use.  More lanes means less congestion, less pollution, less fuel usage, faster commutes, and happier constituents.

Or does that just seem too un-American?


Categories: Pet Peeves
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