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The Quickest Way to a Misleading Generalization is Always Through COAST

Over the course of the past two years I have been privileged to debate the merits of rail transportation with COAST’s Mark Miller on several occasions. These conversations often lasted extended periods of time and often included a statement from Miller that went something like this: “I’m not opposed to rail, I just want the voters to have a say on the matter…I actually think a better transportation system would be a good thing for Cincinnati.”

The problem is that these words are not followed up by actions that support them. COAST decided to draft an all-encompassing charter amendment that would have forced all passenger rail investments to go before a public vote no matter how big or small. Since COAST’s special interest agenda against passenger rail options for Cincinnatians failed miserably at the polls November 3rd, the group has continued to hammer away at the merits of all passenger rail transportation.

COAST’s most recent press conference held outside of City Hall quickly turned into a “chaos filled with lies” and even a minor shoving match according to reports (here & here).

In COAST’s most recent blog post entitled “The Most Expensive Distance Between Two Points is Always a Rail Line,” they cite a recent story from the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail Reporter that identified a recent decision by a Network Rail manager to send their employees to a conference by bus instead of by rail due to costs. The sweeping claim, made by COAST, didn’t take long to garner a response on their very own blog:

“Go to National Express, they have both bus and train fares on their website for the UK. A same-day, one-way ticket from Coventry to Reading by rail in 37 pounds and takes 1 hour 15 minutes. A same-day, one-way ticket from Coventry to Reading by bus is 18 pounds 60 cents, and takes 4 hours 55 minutes. If three hours and forty minutes is worth less than $30.49, take the bus. Otherwise the train is a better idea.”

Time valuation aside, there is still that sweeping claim that a rail line is always the most expensive distance between two points. What about air travel? If you were making late Thanksgiving travel plans from Cincinnati to Chicago a roundtrip air ticket would cost you around $473 on Delta, while a roundtrip train ticket would cost you around $105 on Amtrak.

Even with that said, I wonder how much a last minute trip from Cincinnati to Chicago would cost on a helicopter, taxi cab, luxury ocean liner (if possible), a jet pack, or limousine. Don’t be fooled by COAST’s deceiving tactics that are geared to do nothing more than promote their own special interest agenda and muddy the debate surrounding public transportation. But perhaps urban strategist Aaron Renn summed it up best when he discussed COAST’s agenda earlier this year:

“Organizations that exist simply to oppose things without any positive vision of what they want to achieve deserve a skeptical eye.”

Support Cincinnati and its transportation choices.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.