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Touting Transit Systems

April 27th, 2022 by dk

 A mock debate between two views of any city’s transit system. It’s a mock debate because both sides are correct.

JON: Every transportation system exists for only one purpose: to get someone or something from Point A to Point B. It’s as simple as that.

RON: Yes, it is that simple with some thing, but it’s not always that simple with some one. People are not cargo. They’re curious. They want to know what they don’t know and go where they didn’t go before.

JON: Lane Transit District has great tools for getting almost anywhere in central Lane County. Their trip planner can show you how to get where you want to go.

RON: Their maps and schedules tell you much more than that. They tell you where other people go. If you never heard the names “Gateway” or “PeaceHealth” or “Autzen” before, the system can tell you that something important happens there.

JON: People want efficiency. LTD’s schedules are designed to save people time.

RON: Yes — and f you have spare time, riding the system for an hour or two will show you new places and people.

JON: LTD’s RideSource can literally take you doorstep to doorstep. It’s almost as convenient as driving your own car.

RON: Convenience isn’t all that matters. Driving your own car can be much more expensive, worse for the planet, and only a little bit faster.

JON: Americans have a need for speed. We love the open road. The car is king.

RON: Learning what the transit system can do gives us something else we love — options!

JON: Options are great, but people sometimes need simplicity. Google Maps can do most of what LTD’s trip planner does. And everybody has Google on their phone.

RON: That’s great for work or getting to a specific store. I use Google Maps to learn new and faster ways to get somewhere. I like learning new things.!

JON: So you agree that getting somewhere efficiently is important?

RON: Not always. Exploring is important to Oregonians. You can see an awful lot along the way when someone else is driving.

JON: LTD doesn’t operate tour busses. Nobody’s looking out the windows. They are looking at their phones.

RON: Try taking LTD’s bus route #91 up the McKenzie River. Sit on the right side to watch the river. Bring your bike. Get off anytime and ride your bike home, downhill.

JON: Well, I guess you can’t do that with your car.

RON: And it’s cheap. A full-day pass to use the entire system costs $3.50. If you’re a student or a senior, it’s free. You can go anywhere the system can take you.

JON: You make a good point.

RON: I think of the transit map and schedules as the Table of Contents of a book. It’s not the city itself, but it gives you a lot of clues about what you’ll find inside it.

JON: So we disagree about transit because we’re opening different books. You see a city as a best-seller. I see it as a dictionary or a telephone directory.

RON: Yeah, that’s right. If you just want to reach a destination, to get an answer, your book is the right approach. If the destination matters less than the journey, use mine.

JON: Either way you approach it, the book or the city has no real ending.

RON: My version does. Learning the transit system is like browsing the Table of Contents. You can read a city’s Index by strolling through its cemeteries.

JON: Yes, that makes sense. Everybody who is important to the book or to the city eventually ends up there — in the Index or in the cemetery.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and archives past columns at

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