Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sometimes Transit Isn't the (Only) Solution(!)

A classmate mentioned this article today, about Atlanta's snowpocalypse and the role that poor regional governance and an over-reliance on cars played in the fiasco. Give it a read, it's interesting. Don't worry, I'll wait.

Done?

Okay, so it kind of seemed like the problem wasn't so much a lack of buses that caused the Atlanta metro's problems, but rather poor coordination between the region's incredible number of municipalities, right? The author even says in the opening paragraph that some children had to spend the night in buses, and I can tell you from experience in Seattle that buses don't do any better in snow than most cars. It just seemed like a stretch to try to place the bulk of the blame on a lack of transit -- most of which would have been stuck on the road like everyone else.

Here's what I had to say on Facebook:
I'm as anti-sprawl as they come, and generally consider Atlanta an embarrassment to smart transportation, but this article makes a much stronger case for regional cooperation/consolidation than transportation alternatives. I suspect MARTA's rail services were running just fine, but the backbone of just about any transit system is its buses, and as the author noted, buses were stranded just like cars. No doubt this highlights how fragile the apparent robustness of a car-based system can actually be, but this looks like much more a problem of poor governance overall than poor transportation policy specifically.
I do think it has implications for the LA region though, which is also a constellation of local governments that don't always cooperate very well (read: Beverly Hills).
Not that a better transportation system couldn't have made the situation more bearable. An article on Streetsblog yesterday notes that, for a downtown Atlanta resident, snowpocalypse wasn't so bad when you weren't dependent on getting around by car. But lots of cities deal with snow all the time, cars and all, and don't have much trouble at all. Atlanta's transit system sucks, but their fragmented governmental structure seems to be what really failed them over the past several days.

1 comment:

  1. The backbone of most transit systems is rail. Buses are typically feeder routes.

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