- Dave Marshall continues beating the drum to build a streetcar along Forest Avenue to Woodford's Corner. While this is certainly a visionary idea, I'm curious to know how Dave plans to pay for a project like this one, which would easily cost upwards of $20 million. I'm concerned that too much of a fixation on trains could distract him (and divert scarce funding) from making more realistic improvements in the shorter term.
- Jed Rathband countered with a proposal to bolster city bus service funded from savings in diminished spending on public parking lots and garages. That may be less sexy than a train, but a whole lot more realistic and would benefit more of the city more quickly.
- Similarly, Markos Miller talked about revising the city's land use codes to support transit-oriented development instead of defaulting to our status quo of car-oriented development. Markos, of course, is also very involved in the efforts to reconfigure and redevelop Franklin Street, a project in which he'll play an important role whether or not he's elected.
- John Eder endorsed ZOOM service to Lewiston/Auburn. He wasn't involved at all in last winter's Legislative efforts, though, which makes me doubt his passion on the subject - I suspect he's just singing from the League of Young Voters' choir-book.
That said, I also admire Jed Rathband's approach. While he's been less directly involved in these issues, they do dovetail with his primary interests in promoting small businesses and additional growth in downtown Portland and in outlying neighborhood centers, where automotive parking costs and regulatory burdens are the major barrier to additional growth. His proposed policies to re-direct city investments and development requirements from a focus on parking lots to a focus on better transit services is a pragmatic, fiscally responsible no-brainer that more candidates should be talking about.
I'll also probably cast a vote for Dave Marshall, although he probably won't be my first choice, for the boldness of his vision for better transit service in the city. Even if it is mostly political razzle-dazzle with little substance, at least Marshall is demonstrating to the other candidates that better transit can be a galvanizing idea for a more sustainable city.
ADDENDUM - other papers are covering this story this morning (10/5), and coverage from both the Press Herald and the Portland Daily Sun included a dig against METRO from fringe candidate Charles Bragdon.
However, only one of those newspapers did any fact-checking to see if Bragdon's Tea Party-style* claims were actually true or not. So kudos to the Daily Sun for holding Bragdon accountable:
"[Bragdon] also said the 'average ridership is about six people per route, per day' on Metro buses. (Metro officials said average daily ridership is more than 4,000 people.)" - from reporter Casey Conley's story in the Daily Sun
*i.e., inflammatory and false.