Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paul Weyrich, R.I.P.

I was saddened to learn today of the passing of Paul Weyrich at the age of 66. As I noted a few weeks ago in a posting linking to a column he had written,
"Paul M. Weyrich is a rare individual; a conservative thought leader who is also an advocate for mass transit and rail transit."
Paul didn't view public transit as a public service but rather as a good, i.e. a product, consumers would be willing to pay for if it provided a good value proposition. He advocated for projects that made good economic sense. That point-of-view made managers and planners sharpen their pencils in order to demonstrate that their proposals warranted public support.

The growth of transit, particularly commuter rail and light rail, over the past two decades piggybacks on the success of new build operations. Every time a metropolitan area added a new service that met its objectives, it weakened opposition from the nay-sayers, skeptics and auto-adovcates in other areas.

Paul bucked an ideology that was invested in the automobile because it saw it as an extension of personal freedom. Instead, he made the case for public transit provided there was accountability. He made a valuable contribution to the conversation and, as a result, he will be missed.

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