Monday, February 11, 2013

Roy Benson is Right but the Wrong Guy to Ask

This story from OPB about a proposed bus rapid transit line in Eugene, Oregon quotes Roy Benson, an opponent of the investment, stating his business will not realize any additional customers:

It's a really poor use of public funds."
Roy Benson owns the Tire Factory, an automotive store along the planned route. As a business owner, he doesn't see any benefits of the new line.
"I'll probably never have anybody come here on the bus, and then buy four tires and get back on the bus to go home," Benson says. 
Roy is right about this. People aren't going to ride the bus to buy new tires for their cars. But it is silly to ask him about the project as his response isn't surprising or offer any insight as to costs associated with the project.

Part of the overall investment strategy for urban transport--transit in particular--is that there should be an associated sorting of economic activities that occurs as a result of new infrastructure and service. Roy Benson will likely consider moving his auto-oriented (and dependent) tire business to a location that offers better auto access, while businesses and developers that value pedestrian and transit access will gladly pay rents that reflect transit and pedestrian access. This type of retail and commercial sorting is not costless, but is expected and a reflection of a healthy market.

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