Sunday, January 28, 2007

Think about the Brazillian pleasures

I really hate public transportation. And I don't think it's the fault of public transportation. I blame the Port Authority. Out of the disaster that was public transportation in Pittsburgh in the 50s, they built a system that was doomed to failure. Their "everything goes downtown" routing system was not prepared for suburban growth. They killed the trolleys. They replaced them with a subway has only two downtown stops and ignored the Downtown-Oakland-Squirrel Hill corridor that would most benefit from a light rail transit system. Fares have continued to climb while service keeps getting slashed. The drivers are some of the highest paid in the nation. Now, they are building an extension of the LRT to the North Side UNDER the river based on the dream of revitalization that the stadiums have never produced and the casinos seem unlikely to supplement while at the same time, raising fares and cutting service again.

They are disemboweling themselves and I think we should let them die. Perhaps out of those ashes, a new system will arise that will actually work.

Today's Post-Gazette had just such an idea. Robert Firth and the staff of Informing Design, Inc. produced a full page presentation on the Brazilian model of a public transportation system that would work. Instead of the "everything goes downtown" model which never worked, they propose a system with local hubs connected by express routes.

It makes perfect sense and, at the same time, will never work because the Port Authority will not die. They will continue to plod along like a bureaucratic zombie, squeezing just enough out of governmental authorities to keep doing things the way they always have. And those authorities will continue to bleed themselves upon the Port Authorities altar because they are unwilling to break the legal monopoly they granted half a century ago.

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