The ART of Denial

“Albuquerque Rapid Transit” has posted an amusing map on its website. “ABQ Development Activity” claims that the value of building permits issued along ART’s corridor “since the project entered into project development with the FTA in February of 2014” is $321.4 million.

ART’s spinmeisters don’t bother to include the value of building permits for the same period before the boondoggle-in-the-making “entered into project development with the FTA.” However limited — correlation is not causation, of course — the amount would be nice to have.

Also unmentioned by ART propagandists is the significant number of government (and government-funded) entities with projects throughout the corridor, including the Social Security Administration, Highland High School, Jefferson Middle School, East Central Health and Social Service Center, Albuquerque Aquarium, El Vado Motel, and De Anza Motor Lodge. Some “transit-oriented development,” that.

In other reality-based transit news, Chapman University’s Center for Demographics and Policy has released a fresh analysis of urban transportation in the 21st century. Its conclusions should shake ART supporters to the core:

● “Today, over 75 percent of jobs are located in the suburbs and exurbs combined. Between 2010 and 2015, 81 percent of job growth was in the suburbs and exurbs.”

● “Between 1960 and 2015, transit’s work trip market share dropped more than 50 percent, from 12.1 percent to 5.2 percent.”

● “Surveys of where people want to live in five years show a decline in the number of those who prefer urban living, already a small minority, and an increase in desire to move to more rural areas. This in a country where the clear majority already live in suburbs, and where the strongest growth continues to be in the suburbs and exurbs.”

● “In 1980, 2.3 percent of workers performed their duties primarily at home. By 2015, this had doubled to 4.6 percent and was only 0.6 percentage points behind transit; outside of New York, this exceeds transit’s share.”

● The bottom line? “Seeking to impose a monocentric model on increasingly dispersed metropolitan areas is a futile strategy that makes little sense.”

Albuquerque’s numbers align with the center’s findings for the nation. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, in New Mexico’s largest city, more employees walk to work than use transit. The number of Albuquerqueans working at home is nearly double the number of commuters employing government-run buses and trains.

Yet ART rolls on, unconcerned with why and how the city’s residents actually move around — and wholly ignorant of both the revolution in device-enabled, on-demand transportation and inevitable arrival of autonomous vehicles.

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3 Replies to “The ART of Denial”

  1. The problem lies with two groups of people. The urban planning professionals who suggest these projects were frightened by motor vehicles as small children and harbor a secret desire to live in Europe. The politicians who listen to them have never actually lived in a big city.

    What neither group understands is that mass transit makes sense in big cities because it’s the fastest and cheapest way to get around. I logged more than 100,000 miles on public transportation in 20 years of commuting to work in downtown Chicago because the subway was more convenient than coping with city traffic and parking. I would not have driven to work on a bet.

    When more convenient modes of transportation are available, mass transit systems can’t compete with private motor vehicles or self-driving cars. ART is destined to be the transportation of last resort for those who have no other choice, such as students and the homeless. Perhaps the urban planners will ride it voluntarily, but nobody else will.

    1. I pay huge property taxes in el paso and they just had to build a trolley that is gonna cost into perpetuity. Its caused businesses to close and years of pollution from the traffic in months. It goes from the mexican border to the university and back. 4 mile loop. For half a billion when its all done. Not voted on by taxpayers.

  2. This isn’t a “mass transit” city period. Everything for the most part males no sense for a project like ARTS, in a Albuquerque, NM. Why would a city tie up 18 miles (9 x 2) of functional purposeful roads,to accommodate at the max., 20 busses that have a 60 passenger capacity. In any given hour, no more than 1200 riders can be commuting on the 18+/- of city streets. Then the actual median elevated platform stations themselves. Inadequately and unsafely designed, with no consideration for those they are to serve.
    When one checks the FTA guidelines and rules on median rapid transit bus stations, you will all the shortfalls immediately. At 14′ in width, and 14″above the street surface, these stations are a prescription for disaster. There is minimal at best space for two standing passengers to walk by each other, without going on to the warning track surface at the stations edge. Now, consider wheelchairs, three wheel mobility devices, strollers, push carts, rollerblade suitcases……. people using crutches…., on these narrow elevated platforms as well? The decorative white canopies, are that only. Decorative. No protection from the elements, good or bad. Benches with no backs that can accommodate two people, on a narrow 8″ metal surface, certainly not where you want your children, elderly mom, or person(s) with a disability seating. And there is so much more that makes no sense, and more importantly raises serious potential safety concerns for most. Progress is great. Unfortunately, ARTS is not such.

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