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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Fight the hypocrisy

The local media outlets have never been shy of notifying the public on how long it has taken to get things going on The Banks, nor have they been hesitant to smear every person/agency related to the project - attributing said delay to them. At the same time the many local naysayers and/or skeptics have been openly critical of politicians, government, non-profits, and even those who support reinvestment in our region's core. These same people and entities have not hesitated in questioning $25M in City money for a streetcar system in our region's core.

I do not have a problem with people who wish to keep things in check and/or question authority, but what I do hope is that these same people place the same amount of scrutiny on other things. If we are going to question $25M of public dollars for streetcars, then I surely hope that we question the $2.5B that will be spent on roadway projects this year alone. These roadway projects are not subject to public vote and are simply funded with little public debate or dialog.

Additionally as we all know, The Banks has been 9 years in the making...and the local media has had no qualms with pitting Nky v. Cincinnati in the past, so I hope this same level of scrutiny is passed along to another comparable project in Nky - Newport Ovation.

I applaud local leaders for their dedicated work on The Banks and the Cincinnati Streetcar project. These types of projects are not easily done and often times take many years to accomplish. Keep up the good work.

Photo Credit: Cincinnati Enquirer/Gary Landers


Jimmy_James said...

Is that "fake dirt" they're shoveling in that picture? It looks awfully powdery for mud that's been out in the weather. I wonder if they carted in dirt for a better photo op.

5chw4r7z said...

But the streetcar won't bring anyone downtown!!
I'm sick of that, who cares?
The 2.5b bridge won't bring anyone downtown either, as a matter of fact it will make it easier for people not to spend money within 50 miles of downtown.
Oh, the studies say maybe up to 2% of the traffic on the bridge will be local, why should we care again?
It makes me mad everyone acts like the new bridge is a god given right, but the streetcar is stupid.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is poor reporting, but my understanding is that the $2.5B is statewide and the $25M is local. If this is the case I don't think it is a fair comparison here.

I agree that there is some bias in the discourse about these projects. I am always amazed at the divisiveness of people in this area. Why is it that when some one raises a concern they are put on a side as if things were black and white.

As these are major planning decisions there is a need for open discussion and exchange of information. I especially like the points that are made in Democracy Takes Command where the author points out that "The more the process of creating the look and feel of Los Angeles becomes subject to an institutionalized and multi-layered discourse, the better this landscape gets, the less it is a “blank.”" This is in reference to the incremental and sometimes tedious process of public participation, but I think it is relevant in Cincinnati. This place takes a long time to do things which is a blessing and a curse.

When people are engaged, empowered and genuinely heard the results may take forever but they are better.

Of course there will always be cynics and people just out to stir up controversy, but that is politics.

Jimmy_James said...

"When people are engaged, empowered and genuinely heard the results may take forever but they are better."

Unless you're living in a city that has attempted to build a rail system numerous times and all you have to show for it are 2 crappy bus systems that are divided by a river. That result (no rail) certainly took forever, but it really isn't better. Not trying to be a jerk; just pointing out that sometimes, someone has to make the tough decision instead of talking and studying options to death. Here's hoping the streetcar can escape that fate. It's not the comprehensive light rail system that we need, but it's a step in the right direction.

Randy Simes said...

Yes the roadwork money is statewide, while the streetcar money is local. But maybe you didn't notice the B behind the $2.5B - B as in BILLION.

Sure it is reflective of a statewide cost, but it isn't even close. We're talking 100x greater. Does it really make sense that we're questioning 1 project to death that is so much less than others?

Additionally, this $2.5B does not include the billions that are needed to replace the Brent Spence Bridge, or the hundreds of millions needed to improve I-75 thru the valley. A project that will improve a Level D rated highway to a Level D rated highway once it is complete. Nothing like spending billions of taxpayer dollars to maintain the status quo.

Anonymous said...

I was just pointing out that local issues rightfully take priority in local discussion.

I hate that the cost of maintaining our roadways takes priority over transit, but it seems thats what the people want, even the people that read this blog according to your poll.

I am not concerned with the $, but the reality of the city's priorities and the discussions that potentially influence those priorities.

But, jimmy makes a valid point sometimes decisions need to be made for the people. I guess we need to force people to ride transit buy not maintaining our roads.

Randy Simes said...

I understand that a large portion of society is perfectly content with the auto-centric lives, but for most people in this nation the choice is made for them as to whether they will choose a life of transit or one behind the wheel of a car.

The poll posted I feel illustrates this. In Cincinnati transit options are limited, and if transit alternatives were as widely available as roads then we would have a more level playing field. But unfortunately right now we're comparing numbers of a McDonald's v. that of a local hamburger joint.

It is completely apples and oranges, and it is time that we actually offer a real choice to the transit consumers in this nation.

Jimmy_James said...

"But, jimmy makes a valid point sometimes decisions need to be made for the people. I guess we need to force people to ride transit buy not maintaining our roads."

Nah, we just need to give the people a real transit option. The poll asks if I ride metro. I never do, because I live in KY, so when I ride the bus, it's TANK. And I spend a lot of time in Chicago and Portland, where I ride their respective rail systems much more than I ride the bus here in Cincy. It's a different world when you live in a city with rail. It's much more feasible than the bus, because the places you want to go tend to gravitate towards rail stops, whereas with a bus only system the development sprawls out and you have to hope that the places you're visiting are somewhere near where bus route runs currently. This makes bus riding a tough sell for those with other options.

Anonymous said...

The issues seem secondary to my response to the post, but still.

I really don't buy it. I know all of you have talked about this repeatedly so I am not going to, or for that matter making an attempt to convince you of anything that hasn't already been said, but if you want to ride public transportation, you can. Just because there is no rail doesn't mean there isn't a choice.

In fact, in all the places I have lived it is the bus that works the best because it provides access to more places. There are plenty of examples of bus systems that use a TOD approach. Rail will never provide access to everything. Not even in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, or even the one everyone can't stop riding the jock of Portland.

If people are inclined to take public transit, if they want to make a lifestyle choice, a social choice the option is there. Sure it could be better, more intermodal. Of course if we don't ride it it will suck, but think about what would happen if we did. No rail system, however far off in the future is going to replace the importance of buses to public transit. Lets not make excuses.

Randy Simes said...

I agree with you that buses are a very important part of a transit system, but even our bus system is not wide reaching enough.

I, like others who have commented, do make a choice to take transit...but the fact of the matter is that many times you have to go out of your way to do so. Until transit is as widely available as the automobile then we don't have a true option. We are strapped to our cars in America, and even more so in cities that don't pursue wider-reaching multi-modal transit systems.

Anonymous said...

I am a firm believer that you have to go out of your way to ride public transit, be it a bus, train, whatever. That is the burden that comes with the advantages.

Individuals have to decide whether it is worth it to them and we are not rational beings. Until there is a more holistic consideration of the social cost/benefits, it is more costly, more inconvenient and less cool, people will use cars for the majority of trips. There is a lot of progress on these fronts. And maybe a streetcar will help move it along.

Public transit will never enable the same freedom of mobility that cars do. How is it possible to have transit as available as cars, aside from some fairly outlandish ideas. The Segway was touted as a personal transit revolution, sure that will happen. We are a long ways off from any viable Personal Rapid Transit. Hopefully people begin to make small personal sacrifices before that happens.

Randy Simes said...

^I accept your apology. :)

Anonymous said...


Jimmy_James said...

"No rail system, however far off in the future is going to replace the importance of buses to public transit. Lets not make excuses."

No excuses here. I ride TANK. And who wants to replace buses? They're very important. They just aren't sufficient alone for a city of Cincinnati's population and density. They should complement rail transit, rather than trying to function as a transit system all on their own.

"How is it possible to have transit as available as cars, aside from some fairly outlandish ideas."

It never will be and isn't intended to be. However, development clusters around rail stops, just as it does around expressway exits. If you build a system with some permanance, like streetcars and/or light rail, most of the things that people want or need will start to pop up around those lines, anticipating demand. So, while you wouldn't have the freedom you would with a car, you would still have access to the essentials with relative ease. Buses can then be used to fill the gaps where rail doesn't run. Without rail (buses only), there is no rhyme or reason to the city's development, and the bus routes are far less likely include the same quality of stops that you would get on a rail line.

Anonymous said...

That all makes sense to me. There was a suggestion that "Until transit is as widely available as the automobile then we don't have a true option" This, to me, isn't about rail or bus, but people riding transit regardless of mode.

All I meant to imply was that waiting until transit is as available the automobile would lead to never having an option and that what may be more important than trying to achieve that is to address the issues of perception, the relatively poor quality of metro service, and most importantly managing expectations about living and moving in the city. I don't buy that a perfect transit system will yield ridership.

Certainly rail plays an important role in the land use patterns, and consequently, hopefully, these behavioral choices.

I am pro transit, regardless of the mode. My concerns are more about the social dynamics surrounding existing and proposed choices.

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