Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Urban Sprawl

Paul Krugman has an article on urban sprawl and how hard it is on working people who rely on mass transit.

Here are my comments from facebook:
I don't drive, which means I have organized my entire working life around mass transit, though Patrick does drive and has a car. We use the car for shopping and trips out of town, and Patrick used it for his job, before he retired. We always lived within the Twin Cities, near bus lines that ran fairly frequently. Not everyone can do this, especially now, when most of the apartment building and conversion in the core cities seems to be upscale. People are pushed out into the inner ring suburbs, because that's where they can afford to rent. They may move to find better schools, though my friends with kids have them in St. Paul schools and are mostly happy with the schools. I don't know how much education drives movement any more.

A friend was talking about how bad bus service in the Twin Cities is. I don't find this, but my standards may be low. But there is no question bus service in the suburbs is awful. I live close to multiple lines, some of which run every 20 minutes through the weekend. The places I am likely to want to go -- the centers of the two cities and the commercial areas leading out of the centers, such as Grand Avenue in St. Paul -- all have good service. There are buses running to the suburbs which run ONLY at rush hours on week days. If you miss your bus, there may not be another one.

Poor working people are in a bind. If they live in the Cities, they may need a car to get to jobs in the suburbs. If they live in the suburbs, they may need a car to get around at all. But cars are expensive, and affordable cars are likely to be unreliable.

I can survive without a car (a) because Patrick has a car and (b) because we can afford to live in the city next to good bus lines and (c) because I have always been able to find jobs in the Cities and on bus lines. Not everyone can.


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