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Transit is ultra conservative: A look back on the Right to public transit

Marc Lefkowitz  |  07/14/16 @ 12:00pm  |  Posted in Transit

We've heard it argued that transit embodies the Conservative ideal. It is certainly fiscally constrained and a more efficient use of scarce public resources than investing in single-occupant vehicles. Don't take our word for it. That was the central theme in a report penned by Paul Weyrich, "father" of the right-wing movement and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation and William Lind, a native Clevelander. They argued well for bringing transit back onto the Conservative agenda.

<br />The RTA Red Line train crosses the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.

Weyrich and Lind's report, "Good Urban Transit: A Conservative Model" makes the case that public transit investment will drive reinvestment in Cleveland and connect the region by, for example, bringing more pedestrians, the lifeblood of social and economic activity, back to neighborhoods. The pair would like to see:

  • Investment in electrified streetcars on Madison Avenue, Clifton, Cedar Hill to Euclid Heights Boulevard to Mayfield Road-parts of the city tailor made for streetcars.
  • Extending RTA's existing Blue, Green and Red Rapid Transit lines so they intersect with highways (I-90 in Euclid and I-271 and Chagrin in Beachwood) and build large park-and-ride lots.
  • Build a new commuter rail network as both an engine for the region's economic prospects and as a national security priority on little used freight rail lines radiating from the city.

"Prudence demands energy independence, for our cities and for our nation," the conclude. "Building good urban transit based on electric railways promises good long-term results."

Read the original GCBL post "Conservatives offer national plan for transit with Cleveland as the model" which includes a link to the report.

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Peter Hedman
8 months ago

These very aspirational projects should be tempered by the reality of available funds, though. Consider that the Euclid corridor project would have been the ideal place for a light rail / electric streetcar system (high ridership / desire for new iconic transit spine), but budget realities led to the best-use-of-resources decision to use Bus Rapid Transit. I could imagine seeing electric busses + trollypoles on our old streetcar streets much more easily than true rail streetcars.

I mention this because I believe there is a great romance to rail as something beautiful every city should have which often leads to nice dreams but less often leads to realizable plans. I certainly dream that Cleveland would one day rebuild its streetcar system as citywide light rail...

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