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Ben Campbell on Segregation by Transportation

October 31, 2016 9:09 am by

RVA Rapid Transit has the text of a recent talk by Ben Campbell at Eyes on Richmond from October 21st, 2016:

In transportation, the effect was dramatic. Segregation by mode of transportation replaced the law requiring people to sit at the back of the bus. The new policy was backed up by massive capital expenditures and built into state and county budgets: state and county budgets provided dedicated taxes and enormous expenditures for roads but little or nothing for public transport.

Up until the 1950’s, Richmond had an excellent public transportation system.

But now the white suburbs had expressways. And the center city folk had the buses, which stopped at the city line, unable to cross to where the new jobs and stores were fleeing and the new subdivisions and schools were being built.

Between 1980 and 2000 the State and Federal governments spent $1.1 billion in public money to build a circumferential highway around metropolitan Richmond, capitalizing economic development for the counties and allowing complete bypassing of the center city. But still, the state did not extend—or require the extension of—public transportation across the county lines. We built eight-lane roads with no streetcar, no bus rapid transit, not even a bus. If you had a car, you could live in the counties. If you didn’t you had to live in the central city.

The result: 50 years after the General Assembly’s actions, so far as we can determine, metropolitan Richmond is the only city of 1 million or more people in the world that does not have full-service public transportation along its major arteries.


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