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I have studied the mass transit situation in the Detroit, Michigan, USA area for a long time, both as a user of the bus system who did not have a car and as a resident using an automobile. I have read extensively about the situation and have found that: 1. The denser the development the worse commuting with an automobile gets. Traveling towards the central parts of Detroit is relatively easy until one attempts to park the auto. OMG! Even though parking structures abound (80% of downtown Detroit is taken up with streets, boulevards, freeways or parking structures) they are difficult to track down and expensive-at least for the area where parking is 'free' in the outlying regions. Often, leaving the venue after a major concert or sporting event becomes an epic wait to move out of the area. 2. My concern is that nowhere, mainly because of concern about servicing the needs of auto use, have developers left any wilderness or open areas. But that is a phenomena that is universal, it is only worse in urban areas where parks and open spaces are rare jewels in the more developed areas. The idea of leaving archipelagos and islands of wilderness that are connected together never occurred to planners; plenty of space for parking and freeways though. Usually mass transit planners are working within the spaces and design confines set down by urban developers who are convinced they know best and who are also not open to suggestions on modifying plans-or so it seems. I can see why the transit experts can't become advocates for environmental concerns. In the long run, as life in our urban areas deteriorates, we will all very soon come to regret not having taken a stand to protect the meadows, streams, fields, woodlands, swamps rivers and lakes. It seems that transit planners and enthusiasts have accepted the idea of coexisting with heavy auto use; however, taking the example of Chicago, which has a lot of both, the mass transit user is given short shrift in the mix. Bus lines are underutilized, as they have a kajillion stops per mile and slower than turtles. The same with the train system which stops every 1/4 or 1/3 mile for every shopper and commuter in the area. Park and ride lots become humongous and --here's my point--the environment suffers because of the perceived need to kow-tow to auto use. I am slowly becoming aware, that until our cities are rebuilt to scale back or eliminate car use (especially in high density areas) transit planning will always be highly compromised and never rise above the mere 'add on' or 'it's nice to have buses and trams because they are so cute' philosophy that seems to prevail in many of our urban centers.
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Aug 4, 2012