Fan Mail: David M.

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Occasionally this blog receives emails from readers that mention why public transportation is important to them.  Here is one we recently received:

I now live in a city and a country with excellent public transport systems. It has made me a BELIEVER in public transport and its way of enriching one’s life.  WHY?

1. It makes the car unnecessary within the city (and often within my country).  Our 7 year old car has been driven about 9,000 miles! We use public transport everywhere within the city and the country. This is a major contribution to the greening of  the country.

2. I greatly encourages walking.  We walk to all our daily activities within  the city and occasionally use the tram or bus to get home if it rains. The encouragement to walk is a major health item!  We are never far from public  transport anywhere in the city so wherever we are, we can get home easily.  In general, walking is quicker than using a car as finding legal parking often takes 10-15 minutes if we use our car!

3.  For those of us who use the tram and RR regularly, we buy a pass,  (good for 1,2 or three years) which gives us half price on all rail journeys and a reduced price on all trams and busses.

Although we are spoiled and lucky,  the public transport system makes one a believer and is an important part of a healthy way of life. Another important factor, admittedly, is living in a foreign city, designed for  pedestrians and not automobiles.  Honestly, it is rare that we have to walk more than twenty minutes to go to every place essential to daily living –  food, clothing, doctor, hospital, movies, club meetings, – you name it.  It’s all within an easy walk.  For us, whether working or retired, it is a huge benefit and more so if, as one ages, one can no longer drive a car. We are well situated for growing old (and/or crippled??). Public transport is an important factor in planning for our old age.

David M.-A former resident of Cincinnati

3 thoughts on “Fan Mail: David M.

    David Ben said:
    September 21, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Thanks for writing in, David M.

    You mention that “another important factor, admittedly, is living in a foreign city, designed for pedestrians and not automobiles.” Cincinnati is, in fact, also a city designed for pedestrians and not for automobiles.

    Cincinnati was settled and developed before the automobile culture took off. The Central Business district, OTR and Uptown were all designed when the streetcars were fully operational. We are a “streetcar-sized” city, not an automobile-sized one like, say Atlanta, Houston, or Orlando. The location of our ameneties, size of our blocks, type and size and location of residential dwellings all harken to a time before the car.

    We have, at great expense to the tax payers (hear that COAST?), attempted to impose (without a vote, COAST) an automobile city onto a city that was designed to work better and more efficently (that means ‘less expensive,’ COAST) with fewer cars on our streets that we have today.

    Providing residents with more options beyond the roadway will make our city run more efficiently. Will people still drive? Of course – and they should. But we need more options so that we can take some of the cars off the roadways and reinvision the scale of our city.

    Don’t take my word for it though. See here: http://www.otrfoundation.org/greendevelopment_infill.php

    Elizabeth T. said:
    September 21, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    David’s letter illustrates a point I often make when discussing public transportation: it usually takes experience in a place where transportation works well to understand how important it is and how well it could work here.

    I am a native Cincinnatian, but I have lived for periods of time in France, Hungary and the Netherlands. In each of these countries I experienced the daily joy of high quality public transportation – not to mention the occasional pleasure of high speed rail travel for weekends out of town. Now I’m back in Cincinnati, and although my quality of life is high here, I miss the transportation options every day. Unfortunately, many of the louder members of our community haven’t had the experience of public transportation done well. It’s almost hard to blame them for not knowing what they are missing!

    Stefanie said:
    September 22, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    I agree with Elizabeth’s assessment of those who oppose public transportation options. If you haven’t experienced firsthand the value of multiple transportation options, it’s difficult to be able to see the forest for the trees, and focus on the potential negatives.

    I have also lived overseas in a major city where multiple forms of reliable transportation were the norm, and I would love to see my own hometown achieve the same.

    Train service to other cities for weekend trips was also a wonderful (and inexpensive) way to visit other cities and not spend nearly as much on gas, parking and mileage put on the odometer.

    Cincinnati is a bit different than larger cities (such as lower density) but I think that having a multiple-option public transportation infrastructure is key to our city’s progress.

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