Last Friday an agenda item about a transit presentation by Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce CEO, Northpoint CID Director and Georgia DOT Board member Brandon Beach magically appeared on the Alpharetta City Council docket for Monday night. I was surprised to see such an item appear out of thin air and wrote about it in this post over the weekend.
Well apparently I wasn’t the only one surprised. Several City Council members told me that they didn’t know anything about it until last Friday either. Then yesterday, as magically as it appeared, the transit presentation disappeared and never took place. Curious stuff.
Maybe Mr. Beach saw the recent article “The Public Transport Revolution – Why does it never Arrive?” on Newgeography.com and realized that MARTA trains were a waste of time and money. You can read the whole article here but below are a few highlights.
Urban economist, Anthony Downs, writing in “Still Stuck in Traffic?” reminds us:
“….trying to decrease traffic congestion by raising residential densities is like trying to improve the position of a painting hung too high on the living room wall by jacking up the ceiling instead of moving the painting.”
One of the arguments used against building more roads – and especially against more motorways – is that as soon as they are built they become congested again because of “induced demand.” Such “induced demand” is surely the natural expression of suppressed demand. It seems unlikely that motorists will mindlessly drive between different destinations for no other reason than they can.
However, let us accept for a moment that “induced demand” is real, and suggests that improving the road network is a fruitless exercise. Advocates of expensive rail networks claim they will reduce congestion on the roads and improve the lot of private vehicle users as a consequence.
But surely, if the construction of an expensive rail network does reduce congestion on the roads then induced demand will rapidly restore the status quo. Maybe the theory is sound after all. It would explain why no retrofitted rail networks have anywhere resulted in reduced congestion.
This is the time to invest in an enhanced roading network while making incremental investments in flexible public transport. Roads can be shared by buses, trucks, vans, cars, taxis, shuttle-buses, motor-cycles and cyclists – unless compulsive regulators say they are for buses only. Railway lines can be used only by trains and if we build them in the wrong place they soon run empty. The Romans built roads and we still use them.
So maybe the incredible disappearing transit machine shows that local business leaders now realize raising sales taxes to pay for expensive, inefficient trains is a waste of time and money. And maybe the Georgia Department of Transportation will make up for decades of neglecting roads in what has been one of the fastest growing areas in the nation.
And maybe I’ll ride a flying pig to Braves games this Summer.