Light Rail vs Personal Rail
I do not understand the vendetta that right-wingers have against mass transit. As a case in point, Minnesota state senator Michelle Bachman has ignorantly complained about the "honors system" of the Minneapolis Light Rail Transit system. On a radio show, she claimed that only 15% of the commuters actually end up paying for tickets, and therefore we need to get rid of the whole system . As Fred Willard would say, I Don't Think So!:
Why doesn't Metro Transit use turnstiles to ensure that LRT riders are paying their fares?Personally I have seen big, burly Minneapolis transit cops write out tickets a couple of times to non-payers. Ka-Ching. Clueless politicians like Bachman evidently don't get out too much. If she did, she would realize the honors system can work in various ways; for example the London train and bus system allows you to pay via credit card once on board.
Metro Transit utilizes a barrier-free fare-collection system which is used by the majority of light-rail systems in North America. The average fare evasion rate for this type of system is 2%, which far lower than the cost to maintain and operate turnstiles. Of course, Transit Police do randomly request that passengers provide proof of fare payment. Passengers who do not provide valid proof end up paying a $180 fine including court costs.
Atrios points to an editorial on the future of Los Angeles mass transit here. Commenters on Atrios's blog mentioned that General Motors effectively destroyed LA's early streetcar system by politically positioning GM buses as an alternative -- via this theory. The roads necessary for buses eventually lead to the endemic LA car culture of today.
Another contender, Personal Rail Transport, has some of the makings of an analogous bait-and-switch tactic to LRT. Professor Ed Anderson of the U. of Minnesota has pushed this idea (basically personal pods on elevated rails) for a long time, even going so far as hawking his system Taxi 2000 at the State Fair last year. But in actuality, the politicians use the PRT as a canard to muddy the waters of effective mass transit solutions:
PRT critics on www.cprt.org have accused the concept of being an excuse for right-wing Republican policymakers such as Olson and the pro-highway Senator Michelle Bachman to vote for automobile infrastructure, while supporting PRT as an alternative to mass transit. The claims of conspiracy theorists resemble the actual events that brought an end to the nation’s streetcar system in the 1930s.In what way does Bachman differ from a thug?