Friday, September 9, 2011

Mass Transit is Good For Our Cities

A few years back, Charlotte had an ambitious plan to incorporate light rail into its mass transit system. One light rail line, the Lynx Blue Line, was completed a couple of years ago, before the economy collapsed. Unfortunately, it seems like the remaining lines that were planned have been stalled, and I have to wonder if they will ever be built.

I took the Lynx Blue Line from the park-and-ride facility at its southern terminus to downtown Charlotte today. Local detractors, those people who are against spending "their" tax money for just about anything, will claim that light rail is a waste of dollars, and doesn't make any difference in reducing smog or traffic congestion. From what I could see, the large three-level parking deck at the light rail station was almost completely full--this is hundreds of cars at just one of the seven park-and-ride lots, cars that would otherwise have been driving the twelve miles into the crowded center city. Multiply this times five days per work week, plus probably a slightly lesser number on weekends. And when there are sports or entertainment events downtown the trains are packed--I know because I used to take the light rail regularly to and from my job.

It's obvious to me that light rail is a benefit to a big and busy city, especially one that is spread out like Charlotte. We have become far too dependent on our cars and the fossil fuels that they require. It's just a shame that in hard economic times, it's worthwhile projects like the light rail that seem to get cut first.

The Lynx Blue Line at the South Boulevard and I485

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