As a Washington delegate to the Democratic National Convention, I gained respect for light rail. Our delegation made frequent use of Charlotte, N.C.'s convenient system.
DNC buses transported delegates to convention venues in the Uptown area. In theory, the trip from our hotel took 15 minutes. With heavy traffic and security road closures, the trip took 75 minutes. However, travel time by light rail, called LYNX, was always 15 minutes. When thousands left Time Warner Arena at midnight, passengers rode free and the area was quickly cleared.
One Charlotte native told me that light rail was controversial when it was installed. However, within months, ridership had grown to three times the numbers predicted and Charlotte residents were clamoring to extend the system.
We now have an opportunity in Vancouver to improve our transportation system. Population and vehicles on the road will only increase with time. Buses can move anywhere, but only if the streets are not clogged. Connection with Portland by light rail is a 21st century beginning. Interest rates for construction are at an all-time low, our citizens need work, and our economy needs the financial boost. I hope that Vancouver will be as practical and as smart as Charlotte.
Elizabeth Stehle Campbell