1. _5.2 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5)
neutral, to (10) strong agreement, what is your view on Westover's
contention that public bodies in transportation ought to be responding
to travel choices of individuals, rather than trying to change those
2. _4.2 average___ On a scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5)
neutral, to (10) strong agreement, what is your view on Westover's
contention that decisions on highways and transit should be kept as
local as possible, rather than turning to levels of government with
broader geographical areas like the Metro Council?
The conceptual framework within which these two questions are posed is
inadequate. The questions represent simplistic, even beguiling
nostroms that don't reflect reality.
Dennis Johnson (10) (10)
Westover sounds like a person after my own heart! He no doubt also
believes in my "city of a million planners". (By the way, did my essay
on this subject ever get circulated?) His kind of thinking is
refreshing as a spring breeze, but probably cannot budge the existing
establishment" for transportation funding and planning unless groups
like the civic caucus get behind this approach. Westover is no doubt a
Ron Paul supporter, as well!
John Hottinger (0) (0)
His are purely philosophical constructs from an atrophied philosophy
that match poorly with the reality of growing transportation and
societal goals. These goals are demanded by a wide variety of
supporters, including many in business. His approach fails to take
into effect the externalities of our individual decisions which can
lead to pollution, the cost of wasted time, and the excessive
demands/needs on society where job location is distant from housing
location either due to poverty (no choice) or wealth (choice).
Tim R. McDonald (10) (10)
This is a wildly helpful articulation of the free market perspective.
It has enlightened me, and affected my views of transit funding
Chuck Slocum (5) (5)
As a society, we delegate large and important decision making on
issues like national defense, a legal system, the post office, the
environment and transportation to our governments to oversee, placing
more emphasis on the public good than individual rights. The notion of
the public funding of individual transportation needs through the
welfare system is already practiced; this will not solve all our
problems. Transportation systems do drive other infrastructure
developments affecting housing, jobs, etc. We should, however, be
mindful of the free market system that pays for it all as well as the
rights of local communities and individuals to have their proper say
Strongly disagree with both.
His suggestion that we allow the flow to determine needs reverts back
to the days of following the game trails, or cow paths to locate
roads. Did work for the time but ignores some of the economic reality
of the 21st century. The problem is that the development trends are
just that trends and can reverse in an instant, as we are seeing now.
Comments recently about the housing market are that the outer suburban
homes, built largely on easy cheep motor vehicle access are among the
greatest problems. I remember the story of redevelopment in Barcelona,
obviously helps to have a dictator in place, where the state razed
major areas and built the infrastructure first followed by subsidized
development. Here we seem to allow all development to proceed as if it
is equally important and equally supportable by services. That is
The idea of transit in a highway corridor seems good at first glance
but, as is seen in the Chicago transit line running from O'Hare
downtown in the I90/94 median just duplicates service. That is, if we
have a road why add transit to serve the same areas, put the transit
in a different location so it can compete without duplication. The bus
transit between the "U" campuses is a good example. We have got to
limit sprawl, and serve existing areas perhaps a ring of transit would
help cut down on the current traffic issues moving between the new
business/ shopping areas.
Also on the congestion pricing and other limits on usage, perhaps we
need to move some of the truck traffic to off peak times.
Roads get approved and funded every year based on their potential to
spur economic development. You cannot justify them to the FHA without
showing this. But transit proposals get evaluated by the FTA strictly
on "ridership," and from surveys of the market of riders that already
exists, not what having a transit corridor might produce. The language
is all different. The criteria are not consistent. This blind spot
extends to user payments. If we road users had to pay the
fully-accounted cost for each trip, it would cause more shock than the
current run-up in fuel prices. I always suspect that these guys are
essentially not comfortable with the idea of a place becoming more
urban, don't like the notion of "riding" with others (whom they do not
know and haven't approved), and totally reject the linkage between
land-use policy and transportation investments.
Wayne Jennings (8) (2)
I think his arguments are circular and don't contribute much to
Dave Durenberger (5) (4)
The first step in transportation systems accountability is to
distinguish national from state responsibility. e.g. air and rail and
interstate trucking/busing investment/regulatory might well be
national. Roadways and shared ride systems would be state, and
individual states determine the role of the local governments or
collaboratives like Met Council. On an accountability scale states
that operate "locally" with antiquated local government structures and
60/40 outstate/metro road investment "strategies" like ours, aren't
ready for "local" decision making. National govt is an efficient
tax-collector and should collect fuel taxes, withhold a % necessary
for national purposes like infrastructure R and D, safety etc, and
remit the balance to the states in proportion to the % determined by
each state to meet its needs and levied on fuel sold intrastate. The
enemy of state/regional/local decision-making today is the federal tax
and the Congressional appropriations committees.
Malcolm McLean (6) (4)
I read Westover regularly in the Pioneer Press but this interview
helped me understand him and the Free Market Institute better. He has
clearly thought a lot about public issues and makes his points,
mostly, understandable. I thought his distinction between roads
(public good) and transit (private good) was mostly hair-splitting.
Both help people get to where they want to go. My basic quarrel with
Westover is that he concentrates on part of society, not all of it.
Small government, attention to personal responsibility - these are
good. But there are systemic problems that go beyond private
responsibility. Is poverty affecting many people not something as
citizens we should be concerned about? Why is small government such a
wonderful goal? Elmer Andersen said we should decide what we want
government to do and then do it. That may end up with small government
but it also may include many programs (with corresponding taxes) that
help those who cannot help themselves so easily. As usual, Abraham
Lincoln said it best when he noted that government should do those
things that the people cannot do for themselves (defense, police), and
those things which the people cannot do so well for themselves
(regulated utilities, pre-school) and leave everything else to the
David Broden (3) (0)
The transportation plans, decisions, and operations must and can only
be the result of looking at the broad overall picture and avoiding
narrow individual interests and views. While all opinions must be
heard, the focus of how the input is used must be to shape the overall
transportation approach. As we have addressed in other responses this
includes congestion, people movement, development, cost, etc. Some of
the decisions simply must provide the "incentive" for people to change
the mode of transportation or to help shift some of the burden from
one mode or areas to another. Emphasis on the individual will only
increase the activity in random events and the probability of a
failure, congestion or disorganized plans. Lack of a "clean" zoning
approach to land use and development will be clearly evident. A good
way to express this may be that transportation is clearly a common
good issue. Topics such as things related to intra and interstate
commerce are appropriate and we need these to be well coordinated.
Bottom line, individual input must be heard but the decision must look
at the aggregate and total common good etc.
Local decisions must be avoided in all transportation decisions with
perhaps some consideration as most would agree regarding land use and
protection of property rights. Since transportation links communities
and provides for movement of people, items, and equipment, the
decisions on all transportation must be over broader geographic areas.
Where possible they should be based not on just today--short term
vision--but a long term look at how the decision will impact
transportation, development, commerce, public safety etc. The decision
process must capture the input of individuals and reflect that in the
considerations but the decisions must be at the larger geographical
Carolyn Ring (5) (3)
Lyall Schwarzkopf (5) (6)
Clarence Shallbetter (6) (6)
There is a lot of confusion about which levels of government should be
responsible for various types of roads and various kinds of transit.
Westover's suggestion that the federal government get out of providing
capital for all but a national set of highways is a good beginning
point in clarifying the issue. Making counties responsible for funding
the transportation of low income residents just as they are
responsible for health and welfare would also add much to the
Keith Swenson (10) (10)
We recreated North America with Eisenhower's Interstate System. Now
that we have created an infrastructure based on Individual
Transportation it's too late to try to switch to a mass transit focus
without abandoning rural America and the outer tier suburbs that were
the result of our existing transportation system.
Robert A. Freeman (8) (4)
I generally agreed with most of what Westover said about cost-benefit
analysis especially on the subject of the tradeoff between mobility
I'm a little torn on whether the decisions should be made by a larger
body like the Met Council or locally - I think Westover's opinion is
colored by his disdain for the Met Council and would note that
communities do a poor job of talking to each other and seeing a larger
However he is right that communities should have more say in how
transportation decisions are made and that there are too many levels
of government involved which reduces accountability and transparency.
Glenn S. Dorfman (0) (0)
Mr. Westover needs to visit the major cities of this world to see that
most people do make decisions based on the transportation "choices"
they have available. Personally, my sisters and I used the subway,
trains, and bus system of NYC through High School before any of us
even owned an automobile. "Persons don't make a decision on the mode
of transportation for a trip absent the purpose of a trip."
Oftentimes, "enhancing freedom" is based upon an individual's
available choices. More choice equals more, not less freedom. Mr.
Westover should also visit Russia!
Would roads have been an economic public good absent the
Nationalization of them
by Eisenhower? Had it not been for the National Defense Act, this
country might have developed more Mag Lev trains like Europe and
Japan. How does Mr. Westover think goods get to market, only by
trucks? While I have not looked at the data on container shipping by
train, it was quite substantial, at least to major population centers.
Charles Lutz (2) (3)
I have distinct ideological differences with Westover (and MN Free
Market Institute), emerging from their commitment to radical
individualism always trumping the common good. But I’m pleased that
Civic Caucus includes even such, in my view, distressing perspectives;
they’re part of the real world and need to be heard.
Scott Halstead (0) (0)
Our lack of planning and poor planning of transportation and transit
is literally dooming our downtowns. Our first 2 LRT lines do nothing
to get suburban people and materials into the inner city. Firms will
continue to build outside the urban core with little regard for
transit. We need to deal with governance, responsibility and authority
There needs to be a system for highways and transit on the large
scale. There needs to be coordinated highway and transit systems.
Local control would be a disaster.
We need a strong metropolitan government responsible to the
metropolitan citizens with the financial tools to design coordinated
transportation and transit in the metro area. We need well defined
transit performance standards. We shouldn't even seek federal funding
for projects of less than $200,000,000.
I strongly agree with both positions. Just wish there were people
willing to bite the bullet and make the plunge in order to move
forward in resolving the situation.