Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fallacy of the False Choice

So WMATA paid $200,000 for a """"study,"""" the crux of which was to imagine what the DC area would be like if there wasn't a Metro!

Predictably, since this was done as a PR stunt by those ridiculously overcompensated PR peeps (all Sarles' cronies) who want more money for Metro, the conclusion was, of course, that the DC area would be a traffic hell hole (unlike now) and that huge swaths of downtown would be grim, paved parking lots--if Metro never existed.

Big if.

There are lots of opinions about how much mass transit should be funded, but Metro doesn't help the discussion be presenting a false choice like this. It's a pointless, counterfactual exercise. It's the Drake equation of mass transit, full of unprovable conjecture, aka BS.


Because there is a Metro (sort of), and even you folks along the Red Line have half a Metro half the time.

What I want to see is an independent study on what the region would be like if the existing Metro was better and worked like a real, live grown up mass transit system. Or, on the downer side, how much Metro's sucking retards the normal benefits one would associate with robust, functional mass transit.

Metro's doomsday "argument" is the same kind of thinking one finds in the "you're either with us, or you're against us" proposition. It's terrible, nonconstructive, black-or-white thinking with the added bonus of a not-so-veiled threat.

There is an argument for transit, but this is not how you make it.

Sadly, the PR stunt seems to have worked on some and here. Sure, they caveat their articles to a degree, but they basically repeat Metro's ridiculous, random, plucked-from-a-nightmare scenario, which is designed to propel this sort of insidious meme (repeated by many on twitter):
or this
It's like Metro is a surly, abusive husband in a spaghetti stained tank top slouching in the glow of a TV set in some dingy apartment drinking too much beer and telling his downtrodden wife how lucky she is to have him.

Hey Metro, try a little charm for crying out loud.

Instead of telling us how much it would suck in a completely made up "without you" scenario, try to step up the service you ostensibly already provide because right now, it sorta sucks to be with you.

Footnote: Why is only the executive summary available to the public? We paid for the whole thing!

Other items:
Loose floor tiles close Clarendon station (
A good report on how WMATA governance should change
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