Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Do You Feel About Public Transportation?

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is predicting that ridership on America’s public transportation systems will increase should gas prices reach $5 a gallon.

We, here in Lexington, are already seeing a steady increase in Lextran’s monthly tallies and there will be more to come. Of course, we are speaking of just a local city’s bus system and not any type of regional transit or intercity passenger service. It is our lack of planning for and implementation of any regional service that will stifle our ability to enhance the local economy.

APTA President William Millar said in a prepared statement. "We must make significant, long-term investments in public transportation or we will leave our fellow Americans with limited travel options, or in many cases stranded without travel options."

Well, I wonder who those stranded will be. Do you think that it will be the wealthy drivers of those fancy SUV’s or the less well off suburbanite located out off Man o’ War Blvd.? Looking at the Lextran route map, I think that there will be a great deal of those who will need to travel more than a mile or two to work and get groceries.

Better yet will be those who are employed in our ring cities and towns and have to commute to places like Frankfort and Georgetown. You remember, places to where we used to have rail service. Carpooling will become popular again, but will it be enough for everyone?

Lexington government workers will not be immune either. More and more of our firefighters and police personnel live out-of-county and commute in. Quite a few of the city’s other administrative jobs are held by non-residents of the city.

Lextran could, of course, strive to become a regional transit agency more along the lines of TANK and TARC in Northern Ky. and Louisville. Those agencies cover areas outside of their home counties and even cross State lines. This movement would mean serious negotiations and agreements with our surrounding neighbors and an expansion of the existing taxing authority just as a basic funding source. The local Tea Partiers would love that, right?

All of this and not a word about connecting the three major cities of Lexington, Louisville and Cincinnati by passenger rail. I don’t’ think that we will get real serious about that until we get near $7 or $8 gas. It may already be too late to get started. Using the existing freight rails is not a realistic concept, as they will be hauling the goods that are now moving by truck.

So, how good do you feel about how well you will get around when if gas gets to $5 a gallon?

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