You can get there!
We found the SN&R Earth Day issue’s article on public transit in Sacramento ironic and troubling. Earth Day is, ostensibly, a celebration about how we can preserve and enhance our natural environment, how to solve problems. Yet your article, even your title “You can’t get there from here,” concludes apathy. The upshot of the article was that transit service is slow and doesn’t go everywhere, and if you live in the suburbs, or want to shop there, you better start saving for a car. This is a cop out.
Yes, transit isn’t what it could be. No. The answer is neither to spend our time waiting for a better transit system nor to drive at the expense of the environment. There is another option: change political will. We are disappointed you didn’t make a stronger statement urging your readers to take action to transform the political forces that have produced historic under-investment in alternatives to cars and a cavalier approach to planning land development.
Until decision-makers take bold stands, the Arco Arenas and Restoration Hardwares will continue to locate to cheap land at the fringe of urban service boundaries. Local and regional planning entities—the keys in deciding how we grow and develop—continue to allow sprawl. City and county planners need to coordinate with transit agencies before approving rampant development.
The state and Sacramento region also need to shift spending priorities. It’s no wonder that public transportation is not as convenient as we would like when only 10 percent of state transportation funds actually go toward transit.
The spirit of Earth Day is to create change. We, as individual citizens, have ample opportunities to build a more robust transit system here in Sacramento. Currently, there are over a dozen state bills that address the core reasons why Sacramento RT cannot provide quicker headways, shorter connections and more extensive service. We’d like to refer your readers to the following Web sites and encourage them to get involved in solving the problem: www.transitassociation.org, www.transact.org/ca/, www.odyssey2020.org.
Californians need choices on how to get around. To provide these choices, the state must dedicate permanent and adequate funding to building a world-class transportation system: a seamless, integrated system of buses, cars, rail and paratransit to connect workers with jobs, students with schools, and communities with each other. Until we fund transit and pursue sane land-use planning, California’s transportation system will continue to disfavor people who cannot drive or afford a car. We don’t have to wait around for good transit—we need to help make it a reality.