This is a video that attempted to sell Kansas City residents on mass transit:

Imagine KC from Arnold Imaging on Vimeo.


Urbanophile reacts:

Good as this video is, it has the major weakness that it too is selling transit as a generator of Starbucks urbanism. Did you notice the types of businesses? Coffee shops, fitness clubs, sushi bars in what appears to be an upscale neighborhood. Also, considering our obsessively politically correct climate (far too politically correct in my view), it is notable that the people in this video were almost entirely white and upscale.

Again, consider who this is being marketed to. In cities like Chicago or New York where working class and poor neighborhoods have reasonable quality transit and at least semi-walkable neighborhoods, selling them on investments in urbanism is generally not a challenge. Indeed, the usual debate is around them clamoring for more transit type investments and demanding equity in spending on them. But in places like Kansas City, where bus service for the poor has often lagged and the city isn't nearly as walkable, marketing to yuppies misses the broader audience. Perhaps that's why it was voted down last time.

It should come as no surprised that poor and minority communities who are stuck with pathetic bus systems that don't meet their needs today are often skeptical of rail transit that appears to be for rich people.

The rest of the post is an complaint that "too many urban advocates have an impoverished vision of city life that amounts to little more than "Starbucks urbanism." It neglects to mention the most impressive instance of mass transit salesmanship in history. One thing I've always wondered is whether transit advocates attempt to enlist the support of property owners whose land value would skyrocket if they wound up near a streetcar stop or subway entrance.