Randal O’Toole’s takedown in Westword of a recent op-ed that suggested Colorado must plow more money into mass transit is on point.
“Urban planner Drew Willsey’s January 28 op-ed favoring spending more money on transit makes all the usual wrong-headed planning assumptions about transportation. Willsey takes it for granted that transit is good, cars are bad, and increasing transit ridership is a cost-effective way of relieving congestion. All of these assumptions are wrong.”
First O’Toole shows that Colorado’s Regional Transportation District (RTD), responsible for things like light rail and buses, used as much energy per commuter mile as someone driving an SUV, and emitted more CO2 than someone driving an SUV. Ouch. Then, he debunks the myth that mass transit reduces congestion with a fact that we have long suspected, but never understood:
“A bus may take a few cars off the road at any given moment, but it occupies as much space as several cars and frequent stops and starts add more to congestion.”
Then, O’Toole dismantles claims that additional money should be plowed into the failing assets. Finally, O’Toole accuses RTD of ignoring the potential for driverless cars and shared ride services in insisting that Colorado double down on mass transit.
O’Toole is right – RTD’s light rail largely has been a failure. It’s time to stop rewarding cronies through transportation contracts and time to start finding ways to make Coloradans more productive.