Friday, August 16, 2019

Indianapolis Traffic Becomes Dreadful as Bus Red Line Swallows Up Critical Travel Lanes

I drive on Indianapolis downtown city streets often.  I also go to Broad Ripple, about once a week, to catch up with a friend.

Those experiences have changed dramatically this summer.  The last several weeks, I've found myself snarled in long traffic jams on downtown streets, waiting through multiple several cycles of the traffic line before I can move through an intersection.    As far as getting to Broad Ripple, especially from downtown... well forget about that.  Heading north on College Avenue toward Broad Ripple at the end of the day, traffic is backed up literally for as much as a mile.  
Welcome to the Red Line, Indianapolis new rapid transit system, which employs an all electric bus system. 

In implementing  the Red Line, several travel lanes are now dedicated to those buses and verboten for drivers to drive in.  The city has already lost a lot of travel lanes due to the addition of bike lanes before the city's leaders decided to take away more travel lanes.

College Avenue, one of the main thoroughfares by which people head to and from the Broad Ripple area, is one of the streets greatly impacted by the Red Line.  With the new bus system removing two of the lanes, there are only two lanes remaining for the north/south traffic on the road.  Needless to say, College Avenue backs up with an endless parade of cars during rush hour.   The obvious location for the Red Line heading to/from the Broad Ripple area was Keystone Avenue instead of the much more narrow, and residential, College Avenue.  But more money was to be made for developers on College Avenue so that is of course where the bus lanes were located. In Indianapolis, the interest of the city's taxpayers always take a back seat to developers whose ambitions are often funded by those same taxpayers.  And, of course, those developers are all too willing to kick back taxpayer money to the politicians in the form of campaign donations that keep the cycle going.

Part of the allure of the Red Line is that the all electric buses will have zero emissions and, thus, be better for the environment.  (Let's ignore for now the obvious counterpoint that emissions are involved in creating the electricity to run the buses.)  How exactly is the environment made better by greatly increasing the amount of time Indianapolis commuters are stuck in idling cars that are pumping out carbon monoxide as they wait through endless cycles of traffic lights?

The developers of the Red Line argue that, if our bus system is much better, Indianapolis commuters will park their cars and ride the bus instead.  That strategy is called "build it and they will come" approach and it never works.  Mass transit has to be designed to meet demand, not to create it.

Problems with Indianapolis traffic, post Red Line, could have been a major issue for Indianapolis voters when they go to the polls in November.  Yet, Republican mayoral candidate State Senator Jim Merritt, desperate for traction in the increasingly Democratic city, can't bring himself to raise the issue.  Merritt has spent more time talking about food deserts than the city's worsening traffic.  The result is Mayor Joe Hogsett does not have to defend the bus line to Indianapolis voters frustrated that their commutes are now considerably longer.

When it comes to whether taxpayers should subsidize economic development and, in doing so, making the corporate interests wealthier, the leadership of both political parties always line up to stick it to the taxpayers.  Make no mistake about it, the Red Line is all about corporate welfare.  The losers are Indianapolis taxpayers and commuters who drive in the city.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Today's Polls Bring Good News for Bernie Sanders, Bad News for Elizabeth Warren

A couple polls today give the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign some hope.
Sen. Bernie Sanders

A Gravis poll of New Hampshire, puts the Vermont Senator in first place.  Sanders comes in at 21% in that poll, while former Vice President Joe Biden is six points behind at 15%.  Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is the only other candidate in double figures at 12%.

That is the first New Hampshire poll in which Sanders has led in since April.  Biden and Sanders are the only Democratic candidates who have led New Hampshire polls this year.

Then you have the Politico/Morning Consult poll.  While Biden is at 33% in that poll, Sanders is a solid second place at 20%, well ahead of Warren at 12%.  Again, no other candidates are in double figures.

Media types for months have been touting the "surging" Warren candidacy, a claim that is usually accompanied by a contention that Sanders' prospects are floundering.  In the real world, the polls don't show much of that going on at all.  They show only a modest few point gain for Warren during the past several months and Sanders losing little of his supporters to Warren or anyone else.

What I find most interesting is that, despite overwhelming positive media coverage, Warren doesn't appear to be gaining much.  Meanwhile, Sanders' supporters continue to feel the Bern.