Urbanophile on Why Legislatures are Hostile to Big Cities

The Urbanophile has an interesting post discussing a study that seems to show a correlation between the size of a city and chances that measures involving that city in particular will pass. There is an inverse relationship. In other words, the bigger the city, the more likely bills involving that city will be defeated in the state legislature. The explanation seems to involve the greater size leading to greater division among representatives from that area. So, in the case of Indianapolis:

This study explains very well, for example, the travails of the proposed IndyConnect transit plan for Indianapolis in the Indiana General Assembly. It has not been rural legislators who have led the opposition, but local ones. These include people like Sen. Brent Waltz, who represents the south side of Indianapolis and would rather widen north side neighborhood streets than implement transit, and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, who is from the north suburbs, representing the area where local officials have most promoted a rail line. They are both Republicans, but prior to his retirement, Democrat Bill Crawford, a long time African American political leader, had voiced skepticism as well. If local legislators won’t vote for the bill, why should anyone else?


  1. Stuart says

    A few years ago, a local authority said as much regarding Lake County. If they voted as a block, they could carry a big stick, but they tend to fight among themselves. I guess the big cities bring it all on themselves.

    When I was a graduate student at IU, watching Indy TV, I saw a legislator from Lake County bad mouth his own district, probably knowing that nobody from No. Indiana would every know he said it. He was right, except for us.

  2. says

    Light rail is in the billion dollar range and it doesn’t pay for itself. It would constantly need funding. It only takes 2% of the drivers off the road. Instead go to hospitals and large companies and have them stagger their times their employees start and quit and it achieves the same thing. Instead of everyone starting at 8 AM stagger some of them to 8:15 AM that will easily achieve the 2% since it will lessen the people on the highway all coming in at 8AM. See it’s so easy but no one but a couple of intelligent consultants make any money. FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL!!!!! When it comes to silly ideas like light rail!

    • Doug says

      Are there metrics for comparing the desirability of automobile/highway infrastructure against light rail in terms of overall expense (not just government expense), subsidies, and efficiency?

      • says

        Doug the roads are used for commerce. All those semi’s, delivery trucks, work vans, people getting to and from work. Is the cable, post man, sewer, gas, water, sales people and I could go on and on going to use light rail????? NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Did you guys not take a business course in college!!!! :0 :) ;)

      • says

        A billion dollars for 2 percent of the population!!!! The other 98% pay for it????? Plus the two percent that will ride it won’t even come close to covering the costs of maintaining it. So it will be a constant drain on taxpayers wallets. Come on SD we already have a football stadium and basketball arena that needs constant subsidy. Then we cut social services, police protection and the citizens of Indy are hiring security outfits to police their neighborhoods. Did somebody drop you as a baby? ;)

  3. says

    To sum up guys! Light rail moves people!! A bus is much cheaper (ask the people in Chicago that work in Chicago I did) and so is a taxi cab. Not only that but it drops the people closer to their destination. Waiting for any other arguments that make light rail a ancient Roman’s dream! ;)

    • Stuart says

      I have a Chicago Ventra card, representing Metra, CTA and PACE. I use the system frequently. This is not an either/or situation, but developing an integrated system where all parts are used and are valuable. The money comes from users and government, and people have learned to use it, and in fact prefer it over cars. Safer, less stressful, faster, less polluting and, compared to cars, cheaper. Any large urban area that doesn’t adopt such a system is adopting doom as its future. Even if we find some way to power them for a cost that is within reason, and cars are in the future, cars only multiply leading to gridlock and an impossible situation that leads to draconian measures to limit them. Without an integrated public transportation system, you have no alternative now or in the future. But, heck, this is Indiana, the home of no-other-alternatives except being rich and where the 99% vote against their best interests.

      • says

        Their best interests??? Indianapolis downtown is losing workers. The grid lock is up on the north side! Do the light rail in Fishers, Carmel and over by the pyramids for god sake if you want it but don’t make me pay for it! I live south! What about my best interests?

        Chicago is nuts! Indy isn’t not yet! I can leave downtown Indy at 4 or 5 Pm and be to post and I74 in less then a 1/2 hour. I have waited that long to go a 1/2 a mile in Chicago! Stuart you don’t get it there is no grid lock downtown. If they would stagger start and end times of employees work day it would knock it down even more!!

  4. says

    Just make the buses safe and comfortable and make sure they are hitting their stops every 20 minutes and people will take the bus. It will be mostly students and the middle to lower class. How many high price lawyers (come on Doug chime in would you take a bus?) and managers are going to take a bus and leave their luxury cars at home!

    Yeah I know Doug that was a cheap shot! ;)

    • John M says

      I’m not exactly high priced, but I am a lawyer and I do ride IndyGo. Of course, I live on one of the few lines that has close-to-frequent service (every 15 minutes). And I’m not exactly ostentatious–I drove a Saturn Ion (a 2003, no late model version like moneybags Doug) until a few months ago.

      • says

        Exactly John you use the bus and you are frugal (Saturn ion) but you just stated that the bus stops every 15 minutes. That is how public transportation is supposed to work. But I know there are a whole lot of places in Indy where it is an hour between stops.
        My friend Pat lived across the street from Wrigley Field and(now she is a partner) a lawyer. We went to visit her and asked if she used the El. She said no she used the bus to get up town because it was quick and parking and traffic would kill her budget. That is why public transportation works in Chicago. It’s cost a fortune to park your car and traffic is crazy. In Indy parking is still not horribly expensive and the traffic is ok.

        Doug is not Mr Moneybags he just knows how to budget his money! Hmmm he might even been smart and married a saver? Usually one spender and one saver in the household. When you have both savers and people that know how to budget then you can have anything you want in life! Well from a money point that is… ;) Then you go and do something stupid like have kids! ;) ;) ;) I Know!!!!

        • John M says

          I was joking about the “moneybags” thing. You are correct about the transit frequency. It’s much more practical now that the frequency is what it is, but there are only a couple of lines in Indy that operate so frequently. Another factor is that I’m nominally self-employed in a small law firm and am responsible for paying my own parking. It’s more cost-effective for me to ride the bus when I can and then simply pay by the hour when I drive to work. This is especially so in the summer, when I ride my bike for free as often as possible.

  5. says

    Stuart sounds like those guys that used to show up at the end of the Johnny Carson show and tout their book that stated that the world would be full by the year 2000!!!! Famine and overpopulation would destroy the world. Guess what we are still here! I have a acre all to myself and my family! No Soylent Green for me!!!!

    • Stuart says

      I’m not a resident or a huge fan of Indianapolis, but the longer an area waits to establish public transportation, the more difficult it is when they want to do it. Building roads across farmland already results in lots of law suits. Just think about the consequences when Marion County has 50% more people than it does now. That’s just reasonable planning, not extreme horror story confabulation, because the urban/suburban centers will only get larger. Urban planners who installed public transportation 30 to 50 years ago have not regretted their decisions, but people who don’t have it are struggling with moving people. It sounds like the North side is experiencing that already. I wish that starting earlier/later would fix it, but I don’t think so. I don’t have a dog in that fight.

      • says

        Another thing Stuart is public transportation was built in the past when governments were flush in cash! The city of Indy bond rating was just down graded. Indy is in debt up to their ass! Ballard and company has been doing what politicians shouldn’t do giving away money to private concerns instead of investing in infrastructure. Hotels and stadiums are supposed to be supported by private concerns not from the public trust.

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