Editorial: Transit issue looms for aging boomers

  • Article by: EDITORIAL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 25, 2012 - 6:43 PM

What to do when a lifetime of driving hits the wall?

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FrankLNov. 25, 12 9:16 PM

Just realize by the time a person is too feeble to drive, they are not going to hike down the block to board a bus. Thus, transit is not the answer.

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cnerlienNov. 25, 12 9:32 PM

Transit is a major part of the answer actually. Many elderly people can't drive due to eyesight issues and failing reflexes, such as my 90 year grand-mother. She can't drive anymore, but she is cognitively capable of using public transit without a problem.

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alansonNov. 25, 1210:02 PM

If we fail to take responsibility for our own parents and instead hand them off to the government, that's a recipe for national bankruptcy. We need to make sure that children, who are capable of caring for their parents, do so. The issue of taking the car away from granny is of far less importance than having a framework of responsibility that includes children.

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mspminnNov. 25, 1210:06 PM

You might spend more time breaking down what the market really wants in housing, and what stands in the way from the market operating as a truly open market. Study urban development for a certain amount of time, and you'll be confronted by the reality that Americans have long shown more preference for more compact "traditional" neighborhoods like Linden Hills, Hopkins or Mac-Groveland that readily support transit than the "marketplace" has delivered in recent decades. There are many reasons for that. But a central culprit is that in so many cities, regulations for large-lot houses skew our the production of housing toward large homes on large lots. Those homes do often maximize developer profit, are sometimes perceived to be more desirable, but are not necessarily the best fit with consumer preferences. But given their profitability for developers and stated desirability, they are vastly over-represented in the housing stock that is built, and as a result are more often bought by consumers, given the oversupply of this type of product. Take away the large-lot, large-setback regulations that create transit non-supportive communities, and the true marketplace would begin to center its preferences on a notably different housing form than we've seen built in the Twin Cities over the last several decades. And that typical preferred development would probably much more resemble mid-century Hopkins or St. Louis Park than it would resemble the kinds of housing found on the developing edge of the metro. And places like Hopkins can more readily support transit. None of this is to say we all shouldn't have choice - it's just to say that hopefully the Strib editorial writers come to an appreciation that land use regulation has skewed the marketplace and limited certain kinds of choice for some time, and the result hasn't been particularly beneficial.

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TobsterNov. 25, 1210:22 PM

"And there's evidence that the postwar generation's children and grandchildren want a less spacious...lifestyle." Really? What evidence? Who's complaining about having 'too much space to live'? Who wants to live on top of their neighbors? Not everyone is content to live their entire lives holed up in a tiny apartment, surrounded by other people, with no real space to themselves. This article was probably written by someone of relatively low income that cannot afford a house or a car, and wants to get as many people on board with their live-like-a-college-student-your-whole-life way of thinking. No thanks.

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erikj3Nov. 26, 12 4:15 AM

Building more superhighways and parking lots is CLEARLY the answer to this problem...

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owatonnabillNov. 26, 12 5:59 AM

This article is not about Boomers' driving needs. It is, purely and simply, an attempt to advocate mass-transit at the expense of public roadways. Pure propaganda.

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mn2niceNov. 26, 12 6:28 AM

I grew up in southern California where urban sprawl is king, and if you don't have a car your chances for traveling outside of your immediate neighborhood was and in some ways still is not very good. Finally, after decades of building so many highways they are running out of space for all the concrete and have fought so many battles in court by angry residents in the 1990's they decided to add transit to the mix. Now, they are a leader in transit solutions including transit-oriented development. My sister, who lives in Orange County, can hop on either a commuter train to Los Angeles or use light rail to travel just about anywhere in Orange County or Los Angeles County they care to go to. She and I are not yet old enough that we can't drive, it's just becoming too expensive to drive. And once retirement knocks on your door you are living on a fixed income. For people like us, transit is an answer, yet we constantly run into people or hear about people who loath the thought of losing their cars. The United States is beginning to lerarn the lesson so many in Europe learned long ago; building a multimodal system of transit, light rail, commuter rail and intercity rail not only improves the mobility of those who are younger, it also improves the mobility for those whose driving days at nearing an end. We in Minnesota would do well to learn the lessons others have learned about land use policy, and adjust our thinking to a new reality.

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elind56Nov. 26, 12 8:02 AM

cnerlien said: "Many elderly people can't drive due to eyesight issues and failing reflexes, such as my 90 year grand-mother. She can't drive anymore, but she is cognitively capable of using public transit without a problem."--------------------------How does she get to the train station or bus stop? And from the bus/train to her final destination?

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usa1macNov. 26, 12 8:58 AM

If there is increased demand for public transit in the future, great. However, in a relatively low density setting like the metro or other areas in MN, expanded bus services would be the logical way to go compared to expensive light rail systems. Buses are *MUCH* less expensive to deploy, use existing infrastructure, are more flexible for changes in ridership demands, and can be just as clean as light rail with hybrid buses.

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