Wednesday, January 17, 2007

SWNID Endorses Cincinnati Streetcar Initiative

SWNID recently visited New York City on important ecclesiological business. We look forward to another such visit soon, and we hope to be accompanied by the ever-lovely Mrs. SWNID and some close friends. SWNID also looks forward to an upcoming trip to Chicago on important educational business. Mrs. SWNID likewise looks forward to her own upcoming trip to Chicago for important show business. Daughter of SWNID is also looking forward to her own upcoming visits to New York for important musical business and to Chicago for important educational business.

SWNID also has an upcoming trip for important educational business to Orlando. We aren't so much looking forward to that one.

Why, you ask?

New York and Chicago both have marvelously functional public transportation systems that make the entire city accessible to anyone with an easily procured pass and the ability to read a map. The cities in their entirety become veritable theme parks that one can explore at one's leisure, with no hassles for parking or traffic.

Orlando, on the other hand, is probably the most car-dependent and certainly the least pedestrian friendly city in America (its highest-in-the-nation rate of pedestrian deaths has been amply documented). While its balmy climate is appealing, its endless wasteland of highways and parking lots interrupted by chain restaurants, chain hotels and souvenir shops, imprisons visitors unwilling to pony up the money needed to rent a car. It is probably no accident that Orlando is most famous for an attraction that features an ersatz Main Street that doesn't remotely resemble any actual street in the city and is filled with various shared conveyances, operating in patterns that return the riders to the point where they started. We expect to wait out our time in Orlando by spending whatever free time we have catching up on grading. Magical!

We believe that one measure of any great city is how easily its occupants can get from one interesting point to another. So we utterly applaud the news that Our Fair City is considering the development of a streetcar line to connect the Riverfront, Downtown, Over-the-Rhine and perhaps the University/Uptown districts. It's no Metropolitan Transit Authority or Chicago Transit Authority system, but everyone has to start somewhere.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Streetcar Named Desire

Matt Coulter said...

Understood. My wife and I visited D.C. a few years ago. We had a lot of fun running around town on the Metrorail system. There wasn't much waiting to catch a train and it wasn't a heavily congested ride ever. With all the things to visit in D.C. the transit system makes it possible to see them all quickly. Of course, in Cincy, there isn't much value to site seeing... yet. Actually now that I think about it, a transit system can be used to add new veins to tourism beyond just the river "attractions".

Bryan D said...

Matt,

You're enjoyable experience on the DC Metro was probably because that very system is clean, functional, well organized and easy to understand. This makes it the polar opposite of NYC'S system, however, which changes more regularly than the staircases at Hogwarts. Sure the NYC system is cheap and expansive, but it also forces travelers to guess whether or not their particular train will actually be coming, whether or not they are traveling in the right direction and if the train's conductor is planning on switching it to an "express" line at any time. More importantly, one wonder what exactly the stain on the floor in fron of him might be.

SWIND, what were you thinking by lauding the NYC Metro system? Is it simply drawing the contrast between a city that has one and one that does not? Of course, I suppose that it is possible that someone holds an oppinion slightly or substantially different from my own but, bah!. Why entertain such a notion?

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Excellent point, Bryan D. NYC's Metro is outrageously confusing. We rank London, Paris and Chicago far better for simplicity and usability. San Francisco we find almost as confusing as NYC, but not quite.

And you are right that we applaud any city with thorough and fast public transport over any city without.

However, being old, we also have historical perspective. Gotham's transit is cleaner, safer and more attractive by a factor of about a googleplex compared to what it was in the 1970s when we first visited the city. And we will allow that part of the complexity of NYC owes to its island topography. Manhattan's long N-S and short E-W axes necessitate tunnel and station sharing that other subway lines in more open topography can avoid. To serve its far-flung residents, NYC Metro must become a bit difficult for visitors.

Compare that to Cincinnati's Metro: a declining number of buses that run about once an hour and require downtown connections to go just about anywhere but downtown.

JB in CA said...

I've been to Fresno. They have busses.