01 October 2007


Okay, so apparently Cleveland has the best public transit in North America. This seems a little bit crazy.

Granted, I've only lived here for six weeks, so I'm hardly an expert. But... um... New York? Washington DC? Mexico City!? Cleveland has exactly three rail lines (Red, green, blue! Happy colors!) with a fourth to open next year (Silver! The color of old age and decrepitude!). The bus that goes by my house runs twice an hour—even during the period when I was dependent on the dreaded 37-Corbett I never had to wait more than fifteen minutes.

Unfortunately, until The American Public Transit Association posts the full announcement on its website, we remain ignorant of the exact formula used to calculate the rankings, and thus we can't really refute or be convinced by the data. Perhaps this wasn't a quantitative award at all, but more of an expression of general approval and encouragement?

Because here is the fundamental issue: it is impossible to live in Cleveland without a car. I lived happily without a car for years in both San Francisco and London. Granted, I lived the life of a graduate student and had to rent a car now and then for trips or moving furniture or whatever. That I (and pretty much everyone I knew) lived without a car was due to much more than a transit system that took us most places we needed to go with relative predictability—it's a question of the urban landscape and the urban lifestyle in its entirety—but how any transit system than doesn't allow one to go most places one needs to go with relative predictability can be called the best on the continent leaves me furrowing my brow.

(And I'm not the only one)