PBS Exposes the Joy of Transit

NOW host David Brancaccio does an interview on the LA Metro. Click through for the full video.

The latest episode of NOW
is surely the most effective takedown of car-dependent planning ever
broadcast in news magazine format. Adhering to the familiar contours of
pocketbook journalism, "Driven to Despair" starts with a sympathetic
portrayal of the Schleighs, a family who moved to a southern California
exurb seven years ago. With their adjustable rate mortgage about to
reset and gas prices already busting the family budget, they need a way

What follows can be fairly described as a 25-minute ode to the time- and money-saving benefits of transit, complete with a brief history of the Los Angeles streetcar system and a rueful suggestion that the Presidential candidates should address transportation more forcefully.

the Schleighs and their neighbors react to the idea of riding a train
to work — sneering, in one case — it’s all too apparent why someone
running for national office would skirt the issue. But you also realize
that if a national pol were to finally go out on that limb, he or she
may find voters more receptive to the idea of better trains and buses
than feared.

"Driven to Despair" will be re-broadcast on
PBS all this week. It’s the first part in a
NOW series on infrastructure called "Blueprint America."

  • This was very interesting, but I think the most interesting thing are the things that were not said.

    It is clear to me that the family in Hemet and the family in South Pasadena are in very different economic classes.

    A four bedroom house in Hemet five years ago cost alot less than a two bed room condo in South Pasadena. The family in Hemet doesn’t have the option to live in South Pasadena and they never will.

    For working class people your job is very dependent on where you get hired you and your home is dependent on what you can afford, which is why you see the very high prices for the new housing by the rail and very low prices for the exburbs.

    Desirable neighborhoods have never been cheap in California.

    Pasadena is the suburban life that people dreamed about the Inland Empire is where you end up when you have nowhere to go, of course the people there won’t say that, because who wants to think of themselves in that way. Everyone in America wants to be viewed as middle class and upwardly mobile when it’s clear to me that many of the towns way out past the traditional suburbs of SFV, SGV do not fit this ideal. The inland empire has always been the boonies and it still is the boonies, no one has ever had a dream to live in Hemet, you just end up there.

    Many of the people in the inner cities of LA moved to Lancaster another boonie town because that is what they could afford.

    This report was very false in my opinion, because it sort of made the people in Hemet look like they were ignorant and they aren’t ignorant they just don’t have the money to have the kind of choice that someone who has the kind of income and educational background of someone who can decide they don’t want to make a long commute.

    I mean come on the schools in Hemet can’t be all that good. It can’t be as good as South Orange County Schools, I would buy that school and neighborhood and quality of life story from that family if it were in South Orange County, but in Hemet, not buying that. I’m not saying they are horrible, but they aren’t good enough to warrant a 72 mile commute. It’s certainly not Cerritos where you have people from the public high school regularly going to Ivy Leagues.

    Think about it, if you had good credit and you bought a house in Hemet which was still way cheaper than any condo along the Gold Line in South Pasadena and now 600 dollars more is going to break you, how well were you doing in the first place? That sounds like a person who was living paycheck to paycheck and very depedent on things like over time in order to eat and things, that kind of person doesn’t have choices. Now keep in mind this doesn’t mean they are bad or irresponsible, but they aren’t middle class.

    True choices, when you have kids takes a certain kind of income, educational background and historical circumstances.

  • Steve K.

    I think you are right. It’s all about the choices you make.


Ask the Candidates to Talk Transportation at Tomorrow’s Debate

Insert new question here. We’ve noted throughout this election season that transportation policy is something of a third rail in presidential politics. Gas prices and auto industry jobs are irresistible fodder for campaign promises, but even the candidate who has decent ideas about rail travel and bike infrastructure doesn’t mention transit on the stump. (The […]