The most shocking thing about this driving decline is that it doesn’t seem to be caused by the weak economy. [...]
Some say higher gas prices have caused drivers to stay home. It’s a nice story, but there’s not much evidence backing it up. Gas prices are lower today than they were six and a half years ago. And average fuel efficiency has surged over the last decade, putting the real cost of gasoline usage today no higher than it was a decade ago. [...]
Remember, Americans drove 918 billion fewer miles over the last eight years than they would have if 2006 driving trends hadn’t changed. If a car has a lifespan of 200,000 miles, that ultimately means demand for vehicles over the last eight years was about half a million cars per year lower than it would have been at old driving rates.
But [Ford CEO Alan Mulally] also said he wasn’t sure what role Ford would play in the future of transportation in big cities. According to the Financial Times, Mulally said that adding more cars in urban environments is “not going to work” and that he was interested in developments in “personal mobility” and “quality of life.” Then he seemed to indicate Ford is interested in getting into transit, car sharing, or other models that don’t align with private car ownership.
When Ford gets it…
“We’ve been admiring the Cincinnati market for a few years now but just started our search about a year ago,” Pi co-owner Chris Sommers told nextSTL. “We are amazed at the resurgence of Downtown and OTR and had to be a part of it.” [...]
Sommers said they waited out the streetcar debate before committing to a Cincinnati location.
“We choose our locations based on major transit lines and feel the streetcar will be game-changing for Cincinnati,” Sommers told nextSTL.
Pi’s original St. Louis location is located in the transit-rich Delmar Loop. The downtown St. Louis Pi sits atop a MetroLink station, and the D.C. restaurant is near both Metro Center and Chinatown Stations.
[Jeffrey Ball of The New Republic] notes that many millennials who go carless live in a handful of mostly coastal cities. Read one way, this shows that it is not a widespread phenomenon. Read another, it proves that transportation preferences are malleable. Most of those millennials grew up in car-dependent suburbs. They stopped driving when they moved to cities because they now live somewhere denser, with fewer incentives to drive and better alternatives. Offer that same deal to Americans in other places, especially the poor, and many of them would gladly take it.
Most Northern Kentucky leaders have accepted the fact that tolls will be needed to help fund the new Brent Spence Bridge. However, if Kentucky lawmakers don’t vote to allow tolls on the bridge, the project could be shelved for another year.
Chris Wetterich of the Cincinnati Business Courier asks why a new highway interchange on I-71 isn’t being held to the same standards as the Cincinnati Streetcar by Mayor John Cranley and several council members.
Just for fun, I’d also like to consider how the Enquirer would cover the interchange if they used the same tone as their streetcar coverage:
- They’d print a bunch of letters to the editor claiming that the new interchange “doesn’t go anywhere.”
- They would use pictures of Model T’s and other antique cars instead of modern automobiles (like they frequently use photos of vintage trolleys instead of modern light rail streetcars).
- They’d constantly refer to the interchange as “proposed” (even after contracts are signed and construction is started).
- Instead of just reporting the facts, they would get a bunch of quotes from supporters and opponents of the interchange in a massive display of false equivalence.
- They will finally come out in support of the interchange–but they’ll endorse a mayoral candidate who runs on a pledge to kill the interchange after it’s already under construction.
Even the Enquirer thinks it would be fiscally irresponsible to cancel the Cincinnati Streetcar project, which is very much under construction:
But now 200 construction workers are digging up Downtown streets, and 1,800 feet of rails are already in the ground. [...]
Project manager John Deatrick estimates it will cost another $34 million to $47 million, and take up to a year, to stop it. There are streetcars under construction, tracks to rip up, streets and curbs to restore. By city estimates, we could spend $67 million to $80 million and have nothing to show for it.
And suddenly, the Enquirer understands that the streetcar will make Cincinnati more competitive with its peer cities:
A low cost of living is no longer enough to spur growth; we must also offer modern infrastructure and amenities, especially to the millennials and baby boomers interested in urban living. [...]
To attract those kinds of jobs and workers, 20 streetcar systems are under construction or planned in the U.S., in addition to around a dozen in operation. They are in places like Charlotte, N.C.; Milwaukee; Austin, Texas; and Minneapolis – places we compete with for people and jobs.
I wish the Enquirer would have considered these arguments years ago, instead of publishing ridiculous articles about Barry Horstman power walking the streetcar route.
And finally, what does the Enquirer say about their endorsement of John Cranley, who, uhh, ran on a promise to kill the streetcar?
In endorsing Cranley, we said he would “have to rein in his dictatorial tendencies and discipline himself to be diplomatic, respectful and collaborative.” What we’ve seen so far is a matter for concern. Hurling insults at professionals like streetcar project manager John Deatrick isn’t what we need.
Lawmakers from the area have been the most ardent opponents of tolls as a primary funding mechanism for replacing the bridge, arguing that the federal government needs to pay for most of it. [...]
“I guess if we want this bridge to be built in our lifetime, it is going to have to be with some type of tolling,” said Crestview Hills Mayor Paul Meier. “I don’t think the federal government will be any better off in 2040 than it is today.”
The Cincinnati Streetcar is the first streetcar in the United States to be designed with curb level boarding at every stop, making it the most accessible in the nation. Curb level boarding means easy access for people with wheelchairs, visual impairments, walkers, or other mobility issues. Unlike a bus, they can enter the streetcar independently without the driver having to stop to assist them. Curb level boarding is also helpful for people with strollers, young children, or luggage.
And that’s just one of the many advantages of streetcars over buses.
Whether you live in rural areas or the city, you’re much less likely to die from a gunshot wound — either from someone else or self-inflicted — than you are in a simple accident. Especially car crashes, which make up the bulk of unintentional injury deaths — motor-vehicle-injury-related deaths occurred at a rate that is more than 1.4 times higher than the next leading cause of death. [...]
But guns — whether used accidentally or with intent — are much less likely to be the cause of death than another tool: cars. And people drive more, drive longer, drive faster and drive drunker in rural areas than in urban ones, where they can walk or take public transit.