Thursday, October 14, 2010

Boondoggle in the Motor City: Detroit's Train to Nowhere from Reason.tv


Today we take another trip to Detroit where Reason.tv examines a proposal to construct a light rail line from downtown Detroit to the edge of the suburbs along Woodward Avenue. Constuction is set to begin next with a price tag of $500 million.

This is how Reason describes Detroit:
Detroit has become a place Hollywood directors come for great wreckage shots. One quarter of the city's 140 square miles are deserted. Detroit public school students boast the nation’s worst reading scores, the products of a corruption-ridden school system that recently flirted with bankruptcy. Detroit bested Baltimore in 2009 to take the dreaded “murder capital” title. It may also be the worst place in the country to have a heart attack: prepare to wait half an hour for an ambulance.

In a town lacking essential services, what do local leaders and federal politicians have in mind for helping the city? What's needed to hoist Detroit back to its 1950 heyday, when it was America's fourth largest city, with more than double its current population?

Why, light rail, of course!
Since Detroit is no longer Americas 4th largest city and it's population is closer to a little over 900,000 (actually according to Wikipedia 910,920 was its 2009 population), the antagonists to this project sees this as another rail line to nowhere. Nowhere along the length of its 9.3 mile route! WOW!

They mention another rail line that is operating in Detroit, the People Mover, that operates at only 2.5% capacity.

I must say I'm a proponent of expaning transit systems. I even want to get started on getting that extension of the CTA Red Line from 95th to 130th street that you may have seen me writing about at The Sixth Ward. Then again Sam Staley (transportation expert for the Reason Foundation) makes a good point in saying when it was time to build the NYC Subway, the subway didn't build Manhattan but instead Manhattan built the subway.

Via Newsalert!

BTW, I would like to know from where they got those vintage documentary scenes of Detroit. Also the Reason Foundation runs Reason magazine and website as well.

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