William Lind makes a conservative case for public transit (just not buses)
November 7, 2010 1 Comment
I’ve commented before on some of the opinions of William Lind, mostly regarding New Urbanism. For those who are unfamiliar, Lind argues the conservative side of supporting New Urbanism and transit. In this interview with Sarah Goodyear of Grist, he outlines why conservatives should support public transit initiatives. He argues that supporting transit makes us less reliant on foreign oil sources, and thus is better for national security. He also says that most conservatives are wrong in thinking that transit systems are subsidized while highways are not. Not only are highway subsidized, but don’t cover their own costs as well as transit systems, especially rail. He says that conservatives are more likely to ride rail than they are to ride buses. Rail transit also has proven to boost property values in the vicinity. He says that getting kids a transit pass rather than getting them their own car would save families a lot of money.
While most people who read this argument are fine with it, it’s when Lind brings up race that he can loose some people. He argues that the reason a lot of people don’t ride the bus is because, statistically, buses have a lot of young black males, and young black males are much more likely to commit violent crimes. One thing he advocates that is related to this is having first- and second-class transit. This has existed in other parts of the world, and consists of there being one car on a train or different buses on the same route that costs more than another, but the more expensive one is cleaner, has more leg room, or has some other sort of amenity. Lind argues that this would quell the fears of those worried about who they may have to sit next to on transit.
It’s hard, morally, to agree with Lind on some points. I would like to think that we could overcome our fear of people of different races and not have to resort to elitism to get people to ride transit. But Lind’s ideas do speak to some people, and it would be interesting to see what would happen if some of his ideas were implemented.