Talking to Conservatives About Rail Transit

Streetfilms has a great video with William Lind, a conservative transit advocate, about how to talk about transit in terms that conservatives will appreciate.

I would also note that the late Paul Weyrich, who co-founded the Heritage Foundation, was a trail transit advocate, evening making that point while serving on an infrastructure panel for the Bush administration.

I note some scenes in this video from Portland, and local videographer Dan Kaufman appears in the credits.

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11 responses to “Talking to Conservatives About Rail Transit”

  1. Interesting.

    I looked at some of the other videos at that site and was particularly intrigued with the idea of not charging riders for feeder service to main line stations in the (if I remember) Bogota BRT system. The idea was to speed up service. Riders would pay full fare before boarding the BRT.

    This might actually work in Portland. Most MAX trips beyond fareless square are across three zones, so riders would have to pay full fares anyway. If there is limited non-feeder use of specific feeder buses, then why not make them “free”? This would bring some equity between the FRZ and suburban areas.

  2. NYC is proposing (or may have actually implemented) making crosstown busses in Manhattan free–because most users of these busses are going to or coming from the subway–and thus not paying any additional fare for their busride.

  3. Well, irregardless of a potential conflict of interest, I have to agree with the video–locally, people claim MAX only moves 1% or whatever of people, but is said to carry about 25% of the people where it actually runs (at least along the Banfield and Sunset).

    Also, I don’t see how eliminating fares here would speed up ridership, especially on low-use suburban routes where there’s not a lot of riders in the first place and those that are might be more likely to have a pass, but it might be cheap goodwill to forgo limited fare revenue if higher ridership could be achieved with the service that is being put out. Though it would have to be made sure that it didn’t lead to vandalism and bad behavior.

  4. On the fare elimination front –

    Jason – you’re right in that almost by definition feeders have low ridership and not a lot of time would be saved. There’s still a difference between no and not a lot. The goodwill definitely should be worth something.

    Since we’re just concerned with feeder buses here, I don’t think potential vandalism would be as much of a concern as it might be in rail vehicles since there’s a driver in the cabin. It would be very easy and inexpensive to implement and to end if it didn’t work out.

  5. Jeff F:


    A quote from the entry:

    The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however.

    They recommend using regardless, but it most certainly is a word.

    2) It seems silly to address the form of someone’s comment instead of the content. Doubly so when your criticism is incorrect.

    I’m in agreement with Jason. The percentage of folks who are paying cash for their fares on these routes has to be tiny, small enough that the speed up would be minimal.

    If Trimet wants to speed up boardings they should move to a system similar to the one they have in Chicago, where you take a card with a magnetic stripe and load $20 on it, then dip it quickly in a reader as you board. The reader automatically deducts the fare (if required, it can also track whether or not you require a transfer). I’m not sure if it would work with the zone system we have, but it would undeoubtedly speed up boardings.

  6. If Trimet wants to speed up boardings they should move to a system similar to the one they have in Chicago, where you take a card with a magnetic stripe and load $20 on it, then dip it quickly in a reader as you board.

    When Steve Banta heads to a warmer climate why don’t you get his job and make this the first order of business!

  7. Good luck grade seperating the tracks from the ground and closing stations to easy public access to the platforms. Maybe if we had a Skytrain or subway like Vancouver…

  8. I believe TriMet has at least considered electronic fare payment (I’ve seen it in capital plans), but it’s expensive to put in, requiring all new infrastructure. But it is possible to use on a open system–the fare inspectors just have to use mobile card readers.

  9. Electronic fares would make things quite a bit easier for buses and riders, I’d think. I’d prefer a card I can refill online with my credit card (assuming the e-cards have serial numbers or linked accounts) than need to find $2 in cash. I don’t typically carry cash.

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