Transit and Transportation Night at CABQ City Council

by Scot

August is here, the vacation is over for most, and it’s time for Monday Night City Council.

Are you ready for some legislatin’?

Tonight’s session features two transportation-related items. First, on the agenda anyway, is Councilor Isaac Benton’s proposed revision to how the City implements the finding of Jeff Speck’s “Downtown Walkability Analysis,” discussed earlier on BB here. Let’s do a bit of untangling with what is R-18-40 (R for Resolution) via screenshots of the PDF available online:

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The lines go back to #1 below due to a page break

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Let’s see..underlined means new and strikethrough means deleted, so if I were going to attempt a seven-word explanation of these three paragraphs, I’d say:

“Screw the idea that Jeff Speck’s Analysis ‘shall be considered,’ we’re going full out “is the City’s current policy…downtown.”

There’s also direct mention of keeping the four-way stops at 4th/5th & Roma, something advocated in the “alternative transportation” (i.e., people who don’t drive like a Bat out of Hell) community ever since the downtown four-way stops were put in place months ago.

The other transportation item is also sponsored by Councilor Benton. It’s more of  your traditional “resolution,” as in “something we really think should happen but don’t have a Hell of a lot of control over.” Namely, R-18-54  explains through a ton of “Whereas” (i.e., reasons) that cutting “Southwest Chief” Amtrak service from Albuquerque to Kansas is a really stupid idea.

Which it is.

While other parts of the country are investigating high-speed rail connections between major cities (apparently in some cases over the objection of the so-called Administration), Albuquerque hasn’t had passenger train service to Denver (or El Paso) for maybe forever, and it’s long-running signature service, the “Southwest Chief” is at risk into turning one of those horrible Amtrak buses.

Having ridden the awful Amtrak “thru service” bus twice (El Paso to ABQ; Bakersfield to Barstow) myself, and having ridden the Southwest Chief several times, including a short trip to La Junta, Colorado that was the perfect train trip length (7 hours or so), I can report that riding the train is wonderful and riding in a bus is horrible.

This is not an opinion.

Okay, maybe it’s technically an opinion, but at least it’s supported by actual empirical evidence. Admittedly, I did not conduct survey research with my fellow Amtrak bus riders during these horrible “adventures,” but can report seeing the percentage of scowls, grimaces, and forlorn looks to be right at 100%.

Moreover, didn’t Las Vegas, NM just have it’s train station renovated a few years back? Here’s me, with me taken out, getting ready for a bike tour back in 2011 with a view of the old train station.

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Essentially, Amtrak is a classic case of anti-government policy in which funding for a program is cut so much that service goes to zilch, inevitably followed by conservative cries that “this service sucks, we should get rid of it!” While the funding and policy changes needed to really save Amtrak (in particular the need to change track priority from freight to passenger trains) is a much longer discussion, it’s remains to be seen if there’ll be time for such a lengthy discussion before bone-headed decisions like killing the Southwest Chief service effectively make those discussions unnecessary.

Bummer.

Getting back to CABQ City Council, as most BB readers know, there are three levels of participation in this particular pageant of democracy: 1. Attend the session personally and make a “public comment”; 2. Attend the session personally and simply watch; or, 3. Watch online or on TV. There’s a sliding scale of “good feelings” associated with the levels of participation, with attending/making a public comment considered most democratic. Despite this, your humble blogposter will almost 100% fall into the “watch online,” lazy, low level of democratic participation.

Yes, everything going wrong politically in this City, County, State, Country, World is basically my fault. Glad to be of help, particularly as I get to help/watch in sweatpants and with frequent breaks for more chips and guacamole.

Democracy, like judgment, is hard. Enjoy yours this evening in the manner you choose. Don’t hog the guacamole.

 

 

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