Pushed, perhaps even inspired by Paul Anderson’s Aspen Times opinion of May 6, in which he quotes a New York Times article co-authored by another Aspenite, Hal Harvey, on the “tyranny of the car…”, I wish to address the nearly non-discussion of bringing public transit to West Hollywood. And, while Anderson dwells on cars in congested cities, he brings into the conversation what Harvey calls “the pathologies” that accompany our interest in personal mobility. Part of that manner of thinking plays in the approach to bringing WeHo fully into the county transit system.
It is interesting to note the three “pathologies” of Harvey’s article as the rationale for seeking public transit:
–“First, every car becomes the enemy of every other. The car you hate the most is the one in front of you. As cars pile in, journey times and pollution rise.”
–“Second, after a certain point cars make the city a less congenial place for strollers, bicyclists and people who take public transit to their destinations. The cars push out frolicking kids, quiet afternoons reading on a bench and sidewalk cafes. So, we give up our public space, our neighbor-to-neighbor conversations and ultimately our personal mobility for the next car, for the next car.”
–Third – I’ll paraphrase: the futility of adding lanes and building more highways since “if you build it they will come” – meaning the lanes and roads fill up to the max with more cars as if by magic.
Thus, driven by such as those “pathologies,” we tend to jump at any proposal to remedy a situation because it sounds so simple, but as Manny Rodriguez’s response to Lauren Meister’s WEHOville Op-Ed notes, broad propositions and ballot measures with reams of arcane language that voters never read do propel us to believe that the tooth fairy still delivers. As Meister further points out, the devil is in the details.
Most certainly we need a strong connection to the Metro system, and above-ground rail may be the best option. But where and how much disruption to acquire? A caveat: I recall several Metro public meetings in past years when it was more than evident that Metro had its plans well in place and the outreach meeting was simply to mollify the peasants and comply with rules governing public utilities.
Another item to keep in mind is that Metro is a monolith, only able to move at a very slow pace. Anyone who believes that it can satisfy current or near future needs quickly should think again.
Metro’s grand plan will take at least a generation to unfold. Speeding up the process complicates the plan by allowing money to let a city jump the line – with no real guarantees of performance. West Hollywood has a lot of groundwork to do before it can accept a Metro spur into the city.
We can lobby the hell out of Metro, as other cities are doing, but it will still take ten years to have some kind of transit connection to the general grid – and that amount of time probably upsets political ambitions and aspirations. About the $550 million – I recall the wag who said: ” a million here, a million there – soon you’re talking about real money.”