Sunday, February 11, 2007

Streetcars for Grand Rapids!

If you don't get the Grand Rapids Press (good for you), you may have missed Sunday's front page article on the proposed streetcar plan that will encircle downtown GR. This proposal copies Portland's MAX, and I can tell you from experience how handy the MAX is. You're probably sick of hearing me say that 'everything is better in Oregon,' but in this case it truly is.

Cost? The first phase of construction is estimated at $69 million, a third of the price of the Devos Convention Center monolith and roughly equivalent to the price of the new uber-Green, LEED certified GR Art Museum.

Portland's public transportation system is one of the best anywhere and we would do well to model ours on it. When I lived and worked in downtown Portland I rode the MAX several times a week. Parking in downtown Portland is a nightmare, much worse than GR. Not having to drive downtown was a blessing. Here in GR, the bus system seems to be reserved for those unable to afford a car. Out there in Pacific Northwest-blissville, it's difficult to afford parking unless your car is electric. There are a number of free parking spaces designated for electric cars.

Of course, Portland is also much more bicycle, tie-dye and dreadlock friendly, and users of the MAX are as well. A combination of streetcars, lightrail and BICYCLE TRAFFIC LANES make getting around Portland much easier than here. An easily affordable monthly pass which you can buy from automatic-teller-esque machines gets you anywhere in town, or you can pay cash when you get on and get a transfer to jump from one form of tranportation to another.

Grand Rapids is leading the country in green building projects and this improvement to our public transportation system will push GR even further to the head of the pack in green urban design. Nothing could be better tthan promoting GR as a green, environmentally conscious community that values its citizens enough to reduce their ingestion of smog by providing alternative transportation choices. Mayor Heartwell is on the right path.

For more information, check out Andy Guy's article on the Michigan Land Use Institute website or check out Andy's blog from Grand Rapids.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ya a city triple the size of ours will have a stronger public transportation system....
spanky

erwinhaaslibertarian said...

I spent a few days in Portland, has to be the most depressed place I ever saw. Big rally for poor people, beggers everywhere, folks wandering around on the streets, empty eyes furtively looking for garbage cans.
This is in as area that should be paradise.
The trains were empty, don't know what kind of enthusiast would want to be alone on these dinosaurs.
This abomination, people movers, will use much more energy, leave a larger carbon foot print, (if you believe in fantasy like global warming)and should not be supported by greens.
I have a TV show on channel 24, (West Michigan Libertarian) and
plan to review this in a open show that will be held in April, at the Pizza Hut on 28th street/E. Beltline SE. Open to all. We will be the nidus around which opposition to this craziness congeals.
Follw this site for further details
Erwin Haas, communications director Libertarian party WM

Mom & said...

I spent a few days in Portland, has to be the most depressed place I ever saw. Big rally for poor people, beggers everywhere, folks wandering around on the streets, empty eyes furtively looking for garbage cans.
This is in as area that should be paradise.
The trains were empty, don't know what kind of enthusiast would want to be alone on these dinosaurs.
This abomination, people movers, will use much more energy, leave a larger carbon foot print, (if you believe in fantasy like global warming)and should not be supported by greens.
I have a TV show on channel 24, (West Michigan Libertarian) and
plan to review this in a open show that will be held in April, at the Pizza Hut on 28th street/E. Beltline SE. Open to all. We will be the nidus around which opposition to this craziness congeals.
Follw this site for further details
Erwin Haas, communications director Libertarian party WM

Anonymous said...

A fantasy like global warming? Is that the position of the WM Libertarian Party or your own?

what's a nidis? How do I get one?

Jerome Alicki said...

Yeah, it's unfortunate that ExxonMobil's PR campaign has duped well-meaning folk into believing that global warming is a myth, especially someone who has the balls to go out and start his own tv show to express his opinion.

This craziness that Mr. Haas mentions is a return to old ways. This is just replacing what has been lost. Streetcars were a feature of Grand Rapids for many decades, the tracks weren't completely removed until the 1940's. The idea is very old, and has merit for a regional and national economy not based on the automobile. Whether you choose to believe it or not, the days of the internal combustion engine are numbered, and the neverending flow of oil from the Middle East WILL end in the next few decades. Times they are a-changin'. Adapt or die. We can choose to make decisions that will eventually benefit everyone, or we can stick our heads firmly in the sand and pretend nothing is happening around us. Either way, business in every American city is based on the flow of people, and we have to consider carefully how that flow will continue after the internal combustion engine is extinct.

The question of whether or not this type of transportation leaves a larger carbon footprint is moot when you consider the growing number of wind power facilities and the fact that the city will be churning away on wind energy within the next few decades.

(I think "nidis" is a technical term relating to drought, not the word he intended. I could be wrong.)