Sunday, October 18, 2009
Grade-level transit much better for business
by Larry Geller
Honolulu’s small businesses—shops, offices, restaurants—don’t know what they will be missing if trains pass over them up in the sky. If they did, they’d join the fight for grade-level transit.
What will they be missing? They’ll be missing everything.
In Portland, for example, tram riders pass shops and stores lined up one after another along the route. Since there is no charge for riding in the center of town, if a passenger sees an intriguing shop, it’s easy to hop off to check it out. Or if they pass a coffee shop and suddenly get that urge for a cup of java, easily done. Jump off at the next corner and take a few minutes to relax. Then hop back on and resume the journey home.
A new store? People will see it instantly from the tram window and come check it out. A new restaurant? Along a tram route, diners can indulge with some wine or beer and not have to drive home.
I’ll try to get a film clip of a PBS program on this. But in the meantime, you get the idea.
What will we find underneath the elevated tracks planned for Honolulu? New shops and restaurants? A vibrant retail corridor? No, just shadow, noise, litter, maybe empty storefronts.
"Slums?" In what sense? i.e. a) corrugated tin shacks (a la Sao Paolo or Calcutta), or, b) non-gentrified business districts and/or residential areas?