COVID: Transit Killer?

Here’s a recent Bloomberg headline about what’s happening now with transportation in Wuhan, China:

wuhan headline image

This is, of course, disastrous news, if it holds — which it probably will. A flight into still more mobile privatization is entirely logical for the individual, of course. And China, like the United States, is literally built for it, given its eager facilitation of automobiles. But what of the collective problems on the horizon — the ones the present pandemic might, barring a simple return to normalcy, have helped us ponder with new maturity?

Whatever the implications of an intensified attachment to cars might be for supposed communists, here in the United States, the coming ridership crisis is going to put environmentalists and transportation activists to a stern test. Will we finally summon the brains and guts to start talking adequately about the way our towns and cities are built around automobiles, or will we continue to whimper and special-plead as our public transit schemes grow even more pathetic and our overall design remains an overclass ukase?

Google Targets Public Transit

googdevil Google has announced it is working on a driverless car.  As usual, mainstream journalists, always breathless and brainless about “tech” stories, are reporting on the project as if it is somehow a portent of major change in our wildly expensive and unsustainable transportation order.  Google co-founder Sergey Brin, naturally, eggs them on, speaking of the project as if it’s somehow “in keeping with our mission of being transformative.”

The reality?  As reported by Automotive News, GCars “will be electronically limited to 25 mph and will never go on highways.  They will be designed as ‘neighborhood’ vehicles.”

In other words, GCars, if they are ever actually viable, will be GTaxis. As such, they will be taking riders away from existing, driver-employing public transit systems and taxi businesses, as well as further stymieing cyclists and pedestrians in the nation’s most walkable and rideable places.

Not quite transformative, is it?