In my last post, I mentioned that more than 500 comments from the public were submitted to SANDAG in response to the Draft 2007 RTP. You would think this would result in a significant number of modifications to the Plan. To the contrary, SANDAG staff is proposing nine.

Granted some of the comments were simply broad statements to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the Plan or the existing transportation system and no doubt many concerns were similar, but still, nine modifications in response to hundreds of comments?

This is unbelievable and insulting. Why do they bother with community meetings and any outreach if they don’t plan on listening to and addressing reasonable concerns?

And elected officials wonder why more residents don’t participate in the process.

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association submitted over 20 questions. Technically, SANDAG responded to all, but in many cases they didn’t really answer the question or address the concern adequately.

For example, we inquired about transit ridership projections. The RTP projects a three-fold increase, so we wanted to know how they would achieve this goal given the experience of the last three decades. In response, we were essentially told that new routes are coming on line, along with some (what I consider minor) improvements to the system.

Here we go again. It’s the whole “if we build it, it will succeed” mentality that is so common in San Diego government.

It’s time SANDAG and the transit agencies admit that the transit strategy for this region has failed. And it will continue to be a failure unless there is a significant change in attitude and willingness to go beyond simply building more new infrastructure.

Many components of the existing transportation system’s infrastructure are crumbling while funding for transit operations and marketing is woefully inadequate. Before adding on to a system that’s broken, SANDAG and the transit agencies ought to work on improving the effectiveness of what we’ve got.

And if they want to ask taxpayers for money to build more transit infrastructure, they should prove to us that the new investments would not just be more money going down the drain.

I’m perfectly willing to pay my share for new investments in transit, but only when I’m confident that it will work. Groups such as Move San Diego have suggested bold, innovative new ideas for transit implementation modeled on global best practices. Is it the right plan? I don’t know. However, I do applaud them for taking the initiative to develop concept solutions that can generate a healthy dialogue about opportunities that might exist for the San Diego region.

— LANI LUTAR

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