October 28, 2002
After sitting behind the wheel of a bus for over a million miles and 27 years, the traffic problem is the “same as it ever was.” Too many cars going into town, looking for parking, polluting, making noise, then jamming up to leave.
We have a $10 million to $12 million bus system that could, with a bit more money commitment, help relieve the congestion. Is it really logical to consider spending so much money on straight shots and parking garages to make it easier for people to stay off the bus and drive into town? Even if most of the money is not local, is it responsible use of money?
If the straight shot is built, at $72 million (yes, improve Maroon Creek Bridge), at some point in the future you’re still going to have to get aggressive about getting people out of their cars at an intercept lot and ferry them to town via buses or light rail (another $40 million to $60 million for rail).
Then all of us will be angry because “how dare they make us get on a bus,” and the open space and the money are gone. Why not get aggressive before we look like just another place giving in to the auto?
A few years ago, the buses had a outbound slip lane along the curbside parking lane all the way to the first half of the “S.” It worked great for the transit riders, saved 15 minutes just to Cemetery Lane.
There was not enough traffic control encouraging people to merge at the Hickory House. Therefore, traffic backed up to the Jerome and made for angry drivers. (Dah, get on the bus.) Also there were some unhappy merchants who didn’t want to give up their parking space for three hours curbside.
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Until recently, any inbound transit vehicles had to sit in the same jam as the autos and not move. Now, a usable slip lane exists from the airport all the way to the roundabout. Buses are almost as unimpeded as a light rail would be (and much less expensive).
Since you guys and girls are going to have to be “dirty commie pinko’s” someday, maybe even if the straight shot passes you should do as much as possible to keep from starting down the road of no return.
1. Start the airport intercept shuttle and increase the capacity of the lot. With the right support it will work.
2. Run buses so frequently during peak times it’s very convenient (every 10 minutes, every 15 non-peak). By the time people park in town and walk or ride to their destination they’ll get there just as fast on the shuttle that would drop them at their destination.
3. Triple parking fees. Make it free for vehicles with three or more. Sell permits to those that need vehicles for work.
4. People who live in town can park anywhere for free (except metered areas).
5. Give mass transit back the outbound slip lane on Main Street and let ?em whine. Hire TCO’s for control.
6. Increase support to RFTA. (Perhaps this can be done for under 700,000.)
7. Ask your experts at RFTA what can be done with your financial support.
Let’s see, $500,000 to $1 million a year for the above. Or, $120 million for construction of straight shots, and light rail, plus the $1 million to $2 million a year to run the rail system.
There will be road construction, more cars and more pollution, with less open space forever. All this to appease all of us who won’t get out of our cars and don’t even vote for you anyhow!