Friday, March 11, 2005

Short Line R.R.

Via the PG, Mikey Lamb announced his support for a Commuter Rail Line to travel from Hazelwood through Oakland to Downtown. If you've ever ridden Amtrak's Capital Limited, you'll know the route through Hazelwood, up through Junction Hollow, past CMU, under Neville Avenue, and along the busway through the strip.

Yes, I am whistfully romantic about rail travel, OK. There's just something very Civilized about it. It may be slow, but you have more leg room than a plane, a better class of people than the buss, and you can enjoy the scenery more than in a car. I long to ride with Hercule Poirot.

So, anyway. Mike's looking at this as an alternative to the Mon-Fayette, which fantabulous, although I have a couple of questions:

(1) Where's the money coming from?
(2) What are the equity issues involved here? Is Mikey proposing bypassing the Hill? Why couldn't this fancy commuter rail service Homewood or East Liberty or Braddock, instead of the less desireable busway? Are the predominantly poorer, blacker neighborhoods of Pittsburgh always going to have bus service while the whiter, more affluent suburbs have Light Rail?
(3) Where's the money coming from?
(4) Is this really Mikey's job to be proposing such a project? Isn't this a non-starter as a MFX alternative if the Turnpike Commission has its heart set on dropping $8 gagillion dollars on a toll road?
(5) Where's the money coming from?
(6) Why stop service at the strip and not take it all the way to Gateway Center? Why are we adding in a 3rd mode of unintegrated mass transit? Would it be a better long term investment to just extend the T?
(7) Where's the money coming from?
(8) No pooftas!
(9) Where's the money coming from?
(10) Would you want PAT to manage this? Really?

Part of me suspects that this is an attempt by Lamb to undercut O'Connor's support in Hazelwood, which is dead set against the MFX. The other part of me surmises that Lamb is trying to one up O'Connor's grand Trolley Line.

Next week, expect Bill Peduto to endorse water taxis, Louis Kendrick to endorse hover cars, Les Ludwig to endorse giant catapults, Daniel F. Repovz and Gary W. Henderson to jointly endorse "rocket pants," and Joe Weinroth to endorse walking really, really fast.

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