Fact-Checking the "PRT Boondoggle" Blog
A project of the PRT NewsCenter

Monday, June 11, 2007

More 'Advocacy Is Not a Policy Decision' (or, Evidence I was probably right) - UPDATE 1

"Kinda Over" the Minnesota anti-PRT propagandist loves rebuttal almost as much as cherrypicking facts. But the latter continues to undermine the former.

Remember my guess from the other day about the true story behind the failure of Minneapolis LRT in the 1970s?

Wouldn't this be a much more common sense explanation: two Metro organizations in a figurative fight to the death to see which would dominate Twin Cities transit planning -- and neither succeeding? Source
Well Ken Avidor just had to respond today:
A book appeared in 2000 called "The Transportation Renaissance". It was written by a PRT fan called Edmund Rydell. He describes how Anderson and his pals got legislation passed in the early 1970's that prevented the Metropolitan Transit Commission (MTC) from planning for rail transit:
"...Ed and others got legislation that took away from the [Metropolitan Transit] Commission its planning function. Over 20 years later, the Twin Cities still lacks an effective transit strategy."Source
There are even two pages from Rydell's (self-published) book. If only Avidor had read them. Rydell:
Anderson and Kieffer... managed to obtain a copy of the consultant's report to the MTC, and effectively used it against them. Source
If we are taking Rydell as gospel, as Avidor wants to treat it,1 then the report must have been very bad indeed. At the very least not defensible, because--
The report died from neglect. The Commission couldn't agree on what to do next. The executive director and several staff members quit. For a year the Commission stayed divided on the guidelines it should follow in recruiting a new director... Ed and others got legislative action that took away from the Commission its planning function. Source
AHA!!! These are not the signs of Ed Anderson bamboozling, as Avidor might say, the MTC with the promise of PRT. These are the hallmarks of an organization that had little or no idea how to accomplish its objectives, was wracked by internal divisions, and couldn't even hire a new chief. Such problems don't happen just because one guy talks to them about PRT. The seeds of discord existed long before Anderson came along. And who were the "others"?2

Remember, at that point Anderson was just one person advocating a particular technology. In such a process (a screening process) every technology -- light rail, heavy rail, buses -- has its advocates. It is up to the decisionmakers to evaluate all the options and select one. At that time PRT could not have been the #1 choice, because the most advanced design, at Morgantown, was not financially viable for a wide-scale application. Some other mode had to have been rated #1, and at most PRT would be identified as for-further-investigation -- as it has been for the last 30 years.

And yet, as noted last week, the government bodies that had purview clung to their own positions -- buses, or rail based on a 40-seat vehicle (streetcars?) -- and that was where things fell apart.

You still can't blame J. Edward Anderson.
Read Part I

1. I take Rydell at his word, but I normally don't quote from the book because it provides no references.
One also must wonder why the governor of Minnesota -- either Wendell Anderson or Rudy Perpich, both Democrats -- did not step in and relocate the transit planning function to another agency.

Update 2/10/2012: More empty alarmism from the Laffable Luddite.
Ken Avidor is still  claiming "Personal Rapid Transit has always been a bogus excuse to defund rail transit." But the document he references is another op-ed -- advocacy. It takes no money away from one type of transit to give to PRT.  Vandervalk's piece will go nowhere if it goes outside New Jersey's transit policy/planning/acquisition process. Five years later, and advocacy still does not equal a policy decision.

"I Ken Avidor in your general direction, silly English k-niggght!"

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