The Anti-Transit People Never Quit.
There’s an element out there that rears up and opposes any rail project. Doesn’t matter where. They hear the word “rail” and led by the libertarian “think tanks”, they come out of the woodwork.
A transit system was first proposed for Honolulu back in the early 1970’s … back when the federal agency known as UMTA was ready to come up with 90% of the funding. Alas, it never happened, buried in an avalanche of “this ain’t the mainland” opposition. Twenty-some years later, a new rapid transit proposal surfaced, enthusiastically promoted by the City Administration, but ultimately failing by a single vote on the City Council. One lousy vote. And it came as a complete surprise.
Today—forty years after the first attempt—the system is finally being built. But because the project is a great deal more complicated now, the cost has escalated and, while a small portion of the money has come from the feds, an additional tax has been levied on local residents to pay for it.
And you know what? We’re still getting the same complaints and objections from, believe it or not, some of the same people with the same arguments who fought the project back in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. For instance:
It’s just another damn gummint boondoggle!
Wait a minute! That’s not an argument at all. It’s just another way of expressing mistrust of government without having to do any actual thinking.
Nobody’s gonna ride it!
Nonsense! Of course people will ride it. The thoughtful question would be, Will enough people ride it? But that’s much too much trouble for those folks.
It’s a waste of money!
Compared to what? To adding more and more lanes to the roads and freeways? That’s what we’ve been doing for these last 40 years and traffic is much worse, not better. In addition to providing an alternative mode of transportation for the taxpayers, public transit is a cheaper, more efficient long-term solution to congestion.
But how do we know we’re right and the other folks are wrong? Well, there was vociferous opposition to the Golden Gate Bridge when it was first proposed back in 1930. Same thing when BART, a transit system linking the entire Bay Area, was brought up. Both projects were fiercely opposed: A boondoggle! A waste of money! No one will use it!
Wrong then. Wrong now.