Sunday, June 08, 2008

legislation for areas too sparse for public transit

Most of New Hampshire is sparsely populated enough to have little or no public transit. In some areas, the Trailways bus is used for commuting. They have park and ride lots by highway exits, and Trailways sells monthly passes by distance, similar to what we have here for Metra. The state is recognizing that another option is needed and has proposed legislation to that end. I hope that they will continue pushing for more alternatives to single commuters in cars and get at least one commuter rail line extended across the border into New Hampshire, as many NH commuters go to Boston-area jobs.

1 comment:

The North Coast said...

I like the idea of extending rail lines into sparsely populated areas, until I consider that it may be happening at the expense of better service in closer-in, more densely-populated areas that are much easier to serve by transit.

The fact is that you need higher densities to support transit. It's too bad that public policy of the past 50 years has promoted the settlement of remote hinterlands and enabled that by heavily funding highway spending at the expense of public transit, but there it is. We just have a huge sunk investment in these places that will never be recovered, and most people are either going to take whatever employment they can find in their remote keeps, or move closer to town.

It looks to me like the disinvestment in exurbs has already begun, especially here in Chicagoland, where the exurbs have not gained value at the same rate as the city and inner suburbs. Now that the housing market is unwinding, the exurbs are losing value much more rapidly, and they will mostly never recover.

We can't save everybody, and we can't continue to allocate excessive resources to failing, sparsely-populated places that never were appropriate abodes for people who work in the city. Resources have to be allocated where they will do the most good with the least expenditure, because in the future we are going to have far less money and resources to waste.