Thursday, June 27, 2013

What about us brain dead slobs?

It's been a longstanding tenet of analysis on this blog that whenever they put a monorail somewhere in the plan, they're probably trying to sell you some bullshit.

 We're reminded once again of that guiding principal here.
This weekend, Sydney will complete a long and predictable narrative that cautions one again about the danger of relying on tourist experiences as a basis for transit planning.

The Sydney Monorail, built in imitation of Seattle's, has now been through the predictable phases of exuberance, delight, irritation, and boredom and has finally arrived at the point of being more of an obstacle than a service.  The Sydney Morning Herald interviews longtime monorail fan Michael Sweeney who says what little can be said in the thing's defense.  He even uses the word groovy, reminding us (and the interviewer) that he's expressing a definition of coolness that prevailed in one historical moment, but that there was no reason to expect would be cool forever.

Why?  The usual things.  It was conceived as part of a redevelopment, designed to be part of the excitement that would sell expensive real estate.  Like many new North American streetcars, the point was solely to achieve a development outcome and nobody much cared whether it would be useful as transit, especially decades into the future.
Recall this public meeting back in March regarding the Rampart St. streetcar proposal where Pres Kabacoff pretty much bragged that the whole point of the thing was to jam up traffic in the hopes that it would raise real estate values.
Pres Kabacoff, a real estate developer from the Bywater neighborhood, said he thinks the streetcar will help spur business. Kabacoff even argued that slowing down vehicle traffic might be a good thing, since having cars whip by "is not conducive for good retail development."

He added, "To the extent that people have a difficult time in traffic getting down the street it may cause them to want to live in the area and use an effective streetcar."
Also, I haven't had the chance to mention this but, yes, I did notice that when tourism poobahs revealed  their plans for redeveloping the WTC site on the riverfront, their drawings did in fact include a Convention Center monorail.   (It's on page 17 of the PDF embedded in that Lens article.)

Sydney monorail link via Atrios who includes the requisite musical number.

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