Denver: Officials Must Abandon Anti-Auto Evangelism

Bocky Mountain News, 2/27/2001, p. 34A, Letters page, right column:

Officials must abandon anti-auto evangelism

Some facts overlooked by Ann Warhover in her op-ed criticizing me (Feb. 19) bear consideration.

First, while 55 percent of transportation resources will be spent on transit over the next quarter century, DRCOG projects transit's market share will increase only one percentage point (from 2 to 3 percent).

Second, as regards the potential for attracting people from cars, transit is about downtown and downtown only. People with a choice do not use transit to other locations, because it is too slow and inconvenient. RTD projects that the I-25 line will deliver only a small percentage of workers to the area's largest employment area, the Denver Tech Center.

Third, no credible vision has been enunciated in Denver whereby more transit might, at any level of spending, make a perceivable difference in traffic congestion or air pollution. The vision seems to be limited to spending large amounts of taxpayer money.

The test of a light-rail system's success is not how many people are on the train, but rather how many cars it takes off the road. Virtually all experience around the nation has shown that the number is very small. Moreover, the cost is exorbitant -- generally more costly per car removed than leasing a luxury car.

The reality that all agree upon is that, regardless of the level of transit spending, almost all future demand will be for auto travel. It is time for local officials to abandon their anti-auto evangelism and seek instead to solve the problems that actually exist. One percent solutions are not enough.

Wendell Cox
Wendell Cox Consultancy
St. Louis

(c) 2001 --- Wendell Cox Consultancy --- Permission granted to use with attribution.
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