Sometimes a comment is so representative of a common point of view that I want to share it even though I neither agree or disagree exactly. Sometimes too, a comment raises a language point that’s worth noticing. From David Vartanoff:
From my [point of view] lack of free transfers and distance based fares are de facto redlining of neighborhoods. The [Washington DC] WMATA and [San Francisco area] BART [rail transit] systems compound this by making feeder bus usage a further charge. Given that fares have almost no relation to the actual cost of the trip in question, high fares and transfer surcharges are simply disincentives to use. In the[San Francisco] Bay Area, each agency has different fare policies making longer trips confusing and unnecessarily expensive compared to similar mileages in say Chicago or New York.
“De facto redlining” is almost but not quite a contradiction, as “redlining” is generally intentional while “de facto” can refer to a pattern that’s observable in outcomes but was never anyone’s intention. Still, we often have to take responsibility for “de facto” outcomes of what we do, so an accusation of redlining is a good way to raise the stress level of transit managers and the elected officials that they report to. However, stressing out your leadership is not always the key to solving a problem, if the leaders may perceive the problem to be out of their control.
I don’t believe that many transit agency managers and boards are motivated by animus toward particular neighborhoods. But accusations of de facto disfavor toward certain neighborhoods are very emotive, especially to people with experience in racial politics and to older people who remember much more explicit kinds of redlining practiced in the not-too-distant past. And of course, they’re also emotive because they’re about home, which is always an emotional topic.
So before you go too far with “redlining” accusations, tempting as they are, try to understand why connection penalties happen. That’s the subject of the very next post.