When Everyone Starts Cancelling Transit Projects…

One: As soon as he could Governor John Kasich made repeated sounds that he would cancel the Ohio Hub project, saying that Passenger Rail was not (and thus could never be) in Ohio’s future. After hearing it said enough times, the Government recaptured the funds and redistributed them to other, still active rail projects.

A one-off, right?

Two: Newly elected Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker canceled the Milwaukee-Madison rail line (high speed rail as well) and tried to get the money redistributed to road projects. The government told him “no thanks.”

Okay, two Midwestern governors making two seemingly low-impact moves to favor those who funded their election bids. Right?

Three: New Jersey Governor Christopher James Christie cancels a tunnel meant to duplicate tunnels already going from New Jersey to the Penn Central Station in New York.

Okay, so the ARC Tunnel turned out to be a bit of a problem as it ended up being designed, and maybe sending the #7 underneath the Hudson would be a better idea. But still…three projects canceled between November 2010 and January 2011? Must be the United States, right?

Four: On December 1, 2010, Rob Ford said that the first job of the new transit commission to be appointed on December 8 would be to “stop spending money on a project we don’t need anymore”. Meaning Transit City would be killed.

Granted, he would need the council to do that, as he admitted. He also supports mass transit, more along the lines of Subways and such. But one has to wonder…

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Four States/Provinces. Four Right-Of-Center candidates (The Three US governors were Republicans, the Canadian was definitely a right-winger who won what would have been called the Suburbs before the Toronto Amalgamation.) Four transit plans which were summarily canceled (or threatened with cancellation). All by Proclamation, and immediately after election.

Methinks the Republicans (excluding Rob Ford for the whole of this, as he wants to see Subways built up instead of LRTs around town) decided to try to shut down whatever momentum was for public transit by mass-shutting down projects being worked on. By doing so, they could say “See, people didn’t want this stuff, had they wanted it they would have voted them other guys in.” (Never mind that they never said anything before the election). Typical “Shock and Awe here, do stuff right away when the opposition is unable to even react, never mind organize and resist/move. And with state budgets tight (I’ll pummel Clinton over that in due time), striking at the few transit plans that had actually made it to the building stage is bound to have a major impact on moral and future plans (if any are allowed).

And, of course, once it becomes impossible to expand the systems, you’ll start seeing lines shut down. Not much at first, as they’ll have to pick and choose – branches to the Metra Electric, a line in Cleveland, maybe rationalizing a rail line or two in Jersey (no more branching out and branching, or branching between lines) or cutting a stub off at the LIRR. Death by a million cuts.

Already many bus lines have cut back on a regular basis. Chicago has cut back on bus service even through the oughts, don’t be surprised to find out the Rail Lines no longer go 24-7 or some other major cuts start developing.

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I’d like to say “there’s hope for a return to the future. However, things have fundamentally changed since the 1990’s (never mind the ’80’s, when there was still the idea of Government being good, Reagan to the contrary). And with so many plans for expansion having already died, there’s probably plans for closure already being set into motion or put out onto the public’s mind, only to be implemented when the people “resign themselves to the inevitable debasing” of the social contract that had once developed.

There’s no longer any sense that whatever affects us affects our neighbors (or visa-versa). And as fewer and fewer people are “alright, Jack,” less and less will be done simply because people will become bitter. Heck, we’re already losing out ability to empathize with others.

Fact is, it’s been happening since the Seventies. I’ve posted about its causes, we all know the results.

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One thought on “When Everyone Starts Cancelling Transit Projects…

  1. This is our chance to defeat Rob Ford now and make him a lame duck for the next 4 years.

    If councillors think they will lose the next election over this issue they will quickly switch sides and vote against the extremist right wing agenda of Ford and his small group of hardliners.

    Call Mayor Ford at 416-397-FORD (3673) and email him at mayor_ford@toronto.ca and contact other city councillors http://app.toronto.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp to demand that they not only don’t cut the Tenant Defense Fund but increase it due to the rapidly rising rates of rent increases since the recession that are causing widespread economic evictions of the poor, visible minorities, disabled and elderly.

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