Peter Aitken: Rail’s purpose

April 1, 2014 

Driving around the outskirts of Toronto, Canada, there is an odd pattern to the urban development. There are discrete areas of concentrated development, with dozens if not hundreds of high-rise apartments, condos and office buildings, some still under construction. These areas of focused development tend to be long and relatively skinny, which might seem odd until realizing they all follow one of Toronto’s subway lines.

Proximity to reliable and inexpensive public transportation is a real draw for many kinds of development. And herein lies an important lesson that the Triangle region’s rail opponents fail to grasp – rail is not (at least primarily) for the present, it is in large part to help guide future development in a manner that is beneficial to residents and helps to ameliorate the sprawl that is already becoming a blight around here.

It is also not to meet current transportation needs, because such needs are hardly pressing, but to at least get a start on meeting future needs as the Triangle continues to grow. It’s a good thing that we have at least a few public leaders who can see past the next campaign contribution and election to plan for the future well-being of our community.

Peter Aitken

Chapel Hill

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