The Mode Less Traveled
I didn’t decide to be a jerk to the AJC today. I’m like that every day.
An AJC columnist recently posted an article basically saying that instead of investing in a citywide streetcar plan that would bring premium transit access to many neighborhoods that are not serviced by immediate rapid service, we (meaning Metro Atlanta for some reason) should consider options that do not require us to spend much public money. Throughout the article, he brought up the ridesharing service, Uber, for its ubiquity, and its potential to offer,
“broader service and more flexibility than we will ever build out with streetcars”
Well said, but you left out one item that nixes your whole theory…
Here’s the thing.
1. Uber and other ridesharing companies work on a whole different organizational structure than MARTA and the Atlanta Streetcar. While there are dedicated routes that can and cannot be changed, whether talking rail or bus, someone is going to get on through every trip. Uber drivers drive until a demand is made by a passenger. Which is my main point that he does not mention….
While Uber may seem like a stronger contender in this fight, the fact of the matter is, it is NOT the cleanest mode of travel. Every mile that Uber and Lyft drivers are not driving someone to their location is another pound of pollution that goes into the ozone and creates smog, such as what’s shown in the pic above of TODAY’s skies. We are under a Code Orange for smog alerts, which according to the Clean Air Campaign is, “unhealthy for sensitive groups”. Even if a whole 50+ mile streetcar plan would be expensive to initiate, it would surely be cleaner than the ubiquitous emission riders that the ridesharing apps provide. At what point does walking also come into play when running around Midtown anyway?
2. Keith Parker recently reported on Atlanta TechEdge that MARTA wants to partner with Uber to offer flex service to areas not heavily traveled to offer MARTA service. So why you all of a sudden want to forgo transit, I don’t know because the guy in Who Framed Roger Rabbit tried it already. Coexist, much?
3. You mentioned that Metro Atlanta needs to think about our options, but you only reference intown neighborhoods. Seeing as though the AJC has a huuuuuge Outside-the-Perimeter slant, I would not even consider the streetcar as a viable transportation option in such a low-dense swath of land. You can’t even reach Uber in half those places anyway, so that didn’t make sense.
Broad and flexible.
I would say, try again, sir. Uber is nice, but it isn’t revolutionary. It certainly doesn’t change the fact that it’s welcomed either seeing as how the state is still struggling to let it pick people up from the Airport, which MARTA’s been doing since 1988. If you don’t like the streetcar, you just don’t like the streetcar because it doesn’t go to your house. I keep telling all of you, IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE! Pick carefully where you live!!! It is about short trips, which if you are about transit life, $2.50 is nothing compared to getting screwed paying $6 to go one mile. $1 on a streetcar is a deal about a deal, but if you’re one of those people who thinks that money grows on trees, you won’t appreciate the processes that transit agencies have to go through to secure funding because this country is still in love with the vehicle and only throws money to the highways that get corroded with every single Uber, truck, and commuter who thinks that “they should fix this road”. You ask to spend less public dollars, but the solution is going to REQUIRE PUBLIC DOLLARS TO BE SPENT ANYWAY!!!! As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t seen Uber reach for grants or anything for funding because they’re private. I don’t think people would be too find of spending public dollars for private gain. We all know how that turns out…
Transit IS the 21st century solution to transportation. Uber is merely a fancy taxi service, and I have no remorse for saying that, since one of the rudest Uber drivers in Buckhead yelled at me at a bus stop that Uber was the future and buses are obsolete. Uber has yet to respond to my complaint…