Public Transportation Part of the Problem With Downtown Living

RECEIVED Wed., July 5, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Gary Liddy tells us [“Postmarks,” June 30] he “constantly promote[s] the advantages of the 'X-Auto' downtown lifestyle to [his] suburban friends,” while admitting “outside of the nighttime entertainment areas, it's deadsville.” He then insults his “friends” by dismissing them as unable to appreciate urban living. Gary, darlin', the fact that some of us don't want to live in an expensive downtown condo doesn't mean we don't understand the benefits of a walkable city. I lived in San Francisco for two years, and I didn't miss having a car at all because I didn't ever need one. Everything I required was within walking distance of my apartment. I wasn't ever stranded without a car – I could walk to a doctor's appointment or go shopping and make it back to work before my lunch break was over. And when I wanted to go someplace on the other side of town, it was a quick, cheap trip on the subway, bus, or an always-readily-available (and affordable) taxi. Have you tried taking a cab in Austin lately? You'd better have plenty of cash and the dispatcher's phone number to call well in advance. Taking one of Capital Metro's “Night Owl” routes home when the bars close at 2am? Be prepared to stand on a dark street corner with no bench for half an hour or more, and wear comfy shoes, because it's unlikely there's a stop close to your destination. For Austin to create urban density to increase the tax base, reduce traffic (including DWIs), and stop urban sprawl into environmentally sensitive areas, we must promote not only downtown and midtown development (don't get me started on the ridiculous “McMansion” ordinance) but frequent, extensive 24/7 public transportation covering the metropolitan area so we can get anywhere, anytime, quickly, cheaply, and safely.
Camille Whitworth
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