Computer analysis

Novato Advance October 31, 1990


Computer analysis


Returning from a long, bleary-eyed weekend of field study at New George’s, Joe Sixpack slumped into his chair in the air-conditioned office of California’s Office of Long Term Paining (OLTP). Next to his computer was a note from his boss, Mr. Ulysses Stephen Shirkit. “Joe. give me an analysis of the Measure A and L campaigns in Marin County.”

Joe was starting to enjoy the in­creased field work he was doing in the Capitol of Nimbyism.

After opening a file containing news coverage and mailings on the campaign, Joe flipped on his brainy, 486-powered Oasis com­puter and input his first question:

“Opponents of Measure A refer to a federal study to state that ridership projections for the train are in­flated. Is this true?”

The computer flashed back.

Good morning, Joe. Looks like you had a tough weekend and received some bad information. Opponents rely on the Pickkrell study to claim train riders/zip is in­flated. Mr. Pickrell was an and-rail Reagan appointee. If you were sober during the Reagan era, you might recall that Reagan was not very concerned about reducing pol­lution, tried to close down Amtrak and did not believe in supporting intro or inter-city rail networks. Mr. Pickrell often used early draft studies from which to draw his ridership conclusions even when more recent actual riders/zip num­bers presented a supportive case for rail.”

“But Reagan was a good presi­dent for letting the private sector work. So maybe he was right in op­posing rail development,” Joe responded.

“In that case, the system is prov­ing Reagan and the opponents of Measure A wrong. Amtrak has been at its ridership capacity of 21 million for a number of years and could increase its system by four times and still fill it. Thirty-seven cities are expanding or developing rail lines, many even without federal assistance. Rail riders/tip is up 214 percent, while diesel bus riders hip is down 1 percent from 1979 to 1986.”

“Well, the environmental opponents of Measure A say we should pave over  the tracks and make it a busway or toll road. Wouldn’t that be better for serving suburbia, then later on we could put a train in?”

“Joe, you’ve studied in Los An­geles. They are spending about $1 billion per mile to put the train back on land they covered with freeway years ago. Joe, go see the movie ‘Roger Rabbit,’ maybe that will be understandable to you. Read the newspapers about Sadham Pastrami Whosesane, and ask yourself whether trains or buses/toll roads are more resource efficient.”

“But some of the environmen­talists say the train will cause beautiful Marin to be overrun with development”

“Come on Joe. We have done these numbers before. Eighty-eight percent of Marin cannot be developed. Only 4 percent remains to be developed. Two of that 4 per­cent lies along the rail line where clustered developments which leave lots of surrounding open space could provide affordable housing from which people could walk to tide the train. Even if all the waits projected as needed to be built in Marin were built over the next 15 years, Marin’s population growth rate would be a whopping 1/2 of I percent per year. After housing build out, Marin’s average housing density would jump from .29 units per acre to .32 per acre.”

Suddenly Joe’s thoughts were in­terrupted by the intercom, “Joe, Mr. Shrikit would like you to bring the information he wanted to his office.

Some Sonoma, Solano and Napa elected representatives are meeting with him to discuss their disgust about having to put more of their farm and wine land into develop­ment to satisfy Marin’s affordable housing needs.”

Yeah, so what’s new.. .Tell U.S. I’ll be right there.

Dwayue Hunn worked in Sacramento, likes and rides trains, spends time doing a few arm curls with Joe Sixpack and will vote Yes on Measure A

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