It Exists: A Conservative Who Supports Transit

Seemingly as hard to find as the mythic Sasquatch or a Unicorn, we've searched high and low for a conservative who supports transit (or at least who will say so in public) and have found one, in the region around Charlotte, North Carolina.

William S. Lind, director of The American Conservative Center for Public Transportation, has authored an editorial for The Herald Weekly in response to a speech given last week by Randal O'Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, condemning the proposed Charlotte area commuter rail (Red Line) as outdated and overly expensive. In the piece, Lind expresses his support for the Red Line, argues for why rail serves conservative goals, and finds figures to support his contention that he is not alone amongst conservatives to support commuter rail.

Lind notes that, "Rail transit of all kinds, including commuter trains, serves other conservative goals. It promotes economic development and raises property values. Many of Chicago's Metra stations have become densely-developed hubs that bring lots of real-estate tax revenues into town coffers. Rail transit offers suburbanites a way to get around when gas prices soar or events in the Middle East make gas unavailable at any price, as they did in 1973 and 1979."

Distinguishing between conservatives and libertarians, Lind contends that, "While conservatives support some transit projects and oppose others, depending on the project's merits, libertarians oppose all rail transit all the time. They also generally oppose all forms of planning for economic development and growth. They say things that are blatantly untrue such as 'Highways pay for themselves while trains are subsidized.'"

Rep. Boehner, are you listening?

Full Story: A conservative who’s for the Red Line



Conservative Transit Advocates

Plenty of republicans like myself have supported transit projects..IF they provided a truly needed service and give a reasonable return on the investment of public dollars. In fact, when I was involved in the successful 2002 Miami People's Transportation Plan transit tax campaign, the most vehement opponents of the tax were democrats who felt that the people would not simultaneously support another tax initiative for the arts, which they supported over transit.

The lesson to me is that if you want republican support for transit projects, remember that the projects need to move people, and don't exist to create jobs, provide well connected people and companies with lucrative contracts, or pay powerball jackpot prices for land needed for rights-of-way. Nor should a tax dedicated to Transit improvements become just another source of road and sidewalk funds...Sadly, that's pretty much what's happened in Miami with the PTP........

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