Monday, November 17, 2008

Transit Oriented ABQ

The Rio Grande Foundation (NM's version of the CATO Institute) has been given significant opportunity by the local press to bestow their "research" and "wisdom" upon the citizens of our state and region. Their libertarian slant and anti-taxation preaching, however, adversely clouds their judgement. Americans, in general, are highly likely to rebel against high taxes. So when plans for mass transit and a publicly financed downtown arena were announced, it was no surprise that they immediately pushed back with their agenda.

Before the transit vote, Paul Gessing, the current President of the Rio Grande Foundation, was a guest on Eye on New Mexico to tell us what a waste of money it would be to approve such a tax. He even conjured up scenarios for which the project was ineffective. Naturally, he used a worst case scenario. But while his argument immediately sounded rational and pragmatic, it ultimately failed to recognize the full cause and effect of the project.

Quietly and void of the fanfare of the librul (ha) media, towns up and down the commuter rail line have implemented plans to create vibrant, walkable town centers and villages around their RailRunner stations. These areas will eventually house tens of thousands of citizens whom will have the option to move about the metro area by public transit. This seems like such a foreign idea today but it will become the norm in decades to come.

Missing from the argument about this tax was the discussion of future generations ability to live sustainably and with transit options. It is about changing our lifestyles to reflect a rapidly changing urban reality. This tax was every bit about how our city will balance fringe growth with infill. The mayor and MRCOG need to stress this idea to get everyone on the same page because the current, [do it because it's good for us] argument is a tougher sell.

I'm proud of the citizens of the middle Rio Grande region for supporting this tax as it will further improve our transit systems. It will be interesting to see how this arena project will unfold. Will the city be able to sell the voters on the project or will Paul Gessing's misleading research combined with the city's marketing inabilities be enough to keep the project grounded, yet again?


abqdwell said...

Couldn't agree with your comments more. Once open to libertarian viewpoints, I now find them lazy (pretty easy to be against everything). What's interesting about the Rail Runner project and the downtown arena proposal is that it is exactly the kind of forward thinking infrastructure projects that the newest capitalist on the street (China) is pursuing with their stimulus package.

jimbo said...

We're talking about you over at Come join the discussion. Jim Scarantino welcomes you.