Trolley Trivia

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I generally find Laura Sanchez more annoyingly glib than accurate, but her reporting on the Modern Streetcar Project was a new low for her and for the Alibi [Council Watch, “Pandas on Wheels,” Nov. 16-22].

Your publication prides itself on a progressive, informed viewpoint. Her pitter-patter on this issue treated rail transit like a joke, instead of the very important public policy initiative that the
Alibi needs to support, in my view.

1. The Modern Streetcar is
not a "trolley." It is a light-rail technology. It carries 2 / 3 the passengers of the heavier "Light Rail" that has been installed in Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland and San Francisco, to name Western cities. It does this at similar speeds but at a fraction of the weight and cost. It is more appropriate for streets of a certain scale, like Central, as it doesn’t need expensive right of way. Portland and San Diego are both using the Modern Streetcar technology, in combination with light rail, commuter rail, interstate rail and their airports.

2. The true power of light rail is its ability to attract the investment needed for a new kind of development in Albuquerque—walkable, vibrant, "urban village" living where home, work, shopping, school, worship, culture can be accessed without a single-occupant, polluting vehicle. Bus lines simply do not attract this same level of investment.

3. Why? Because like it or not, there are a great number of people who will not ride a bus who will ride rail transit. This is well-documented in city after city. For most people, quality transit is rail transit.

4. Every economically competitive and environmentally sound city in the world has moved or is moving to rail transit, with resulting infill development around the rail. The quality of life in these places is getting better. Can Albuquerque afford another 60 years of auto-only sprawl? The answer is clearly
no , we can’t.

5. These first two light rail lines—on Central and to the airport—connect some key parts of our city to one another, and connect some key transportation elements to one another. Namely, Nob Hill, UNM, the hospitals, Downtown and Old Town with the airport and the Rail Runner. This is just the start to a system that could ultimately connect our entire region.

A prosperous, walkable Albuquerque will be built around this Modern Streetcar Line and future expansions of it. Without this fundamental shift in how our city grows, Albuquerque will not be economically, environmentally or socially viable.

Calling All Greenies

Now that we get to vote on the tax for trolleys, maybe Laura Sanchez [Council Watch, “Pandas on Wheels,” Nov. 16-22] will move beyond too-cool-to-be-passionate and come to the conclusion that her otherwise aptly mordant piece avoided: The trolley project is a breathtakingly expensive confection.

Proponents of the trolley are moving away from clothing it in mass-transit, good-for-the-environment garb (hey, it is only six straight miles on Central, and it’s an electric system, so it’s fossil-fueled—what about hybrids?). With the popular Rapid Ride buses on the same Central corridor as the proposed trolley, proponents are having a hard time showing it is needed for low-income workforce housing occupants. Rather, the $28 million-a-mile trolley is either for tourists who are afraid to ride buses with the locals (yes, a proponent said this at a recent City Council meeting) or is expensive and highly speculative bait to attract investors and high-density infill along the corridor. So what happens to affordable housing for students south of the University if pricey $300,000-plus lofts go up there? Do homeowners in Nob Hill really want looming condos peeking down into their backyards?

More importantly, where are my old progressive, lefty friends who could spot such an obvious the-rich-only-get-richer scheme like this a mile away? It is not green, and with a regressive gross receipts tax paying for a trolley that does nothing for middle and lower income folks, it eats the poor. It is time to stop the last train to Martyville in its tracks.

Up For Review

I appreciate the Alibi for taking on controversial issues, researching and informing readers about election choices, and publicizing many worthy events. However, I returned to town and was interested in Devin O’Leary’s review of Bobby . After reading some of it, I noticed the captions under the photos were based on put-downs of women.

Guess it’s not enough that women are ignored and stereotyped by the film industry, we’re also expected to take sexism with our reading of movie reviews with "funny" photo captions.
Ha, ha.

Somehow people in other groups can complain about printed put-downs, but women are told they have no sense of humor when they stand up for themselves.

Devin O’Leary’s review would be even better without the obvious bias demonstrated.

A person can turn past the sexist ads in the
Alibi but might want to read a movie review, even if she’s a woman. Clean it up, starting with the reviews.

Now Vogue

First off, let me say, I’m a loyal, life-long Democrat. And as such, it shames me that Mary Hererra was elected Secretary of State. Once again, in the counting of this election, she has shown herself to be the same, inept bungler she’s been in all past elections over which she’s presided. And why isn’t the state’s attorney general prosecuting her for not having the official election results on time? Why haven’t they prosecuted her in the past? Apparently, New Mexicans couldn’t see past her cheesy Glamour Shots’ photos long enough to remember how incompetent she’s been all these years.

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