Comment 94312

By j.servus (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:27:07 in reply to Comment 94284

I didn't say that there were only values favoring one side of the issue. You imputed that to me. What I said was that the proper context for discussing the merits of the bus lane is the context of values, not the context of satisfactions. "It's inconvenient" is not, in itself, a valid argument. Lots of worthwhile things are inconvenient and we still do them. In order to convert "it's inconvenient" into a valid argument, you have to add that it's not WORTH the inconvenience. And then you're talking about values, worth.

Now, after you wrongly accused me of saying that there are only good arguments in one direction, which I did not say, you then appealed to a value--saving time--as an argument in favour of the other side. Indeed, it might favour the other side. A door-to-door car trip is almost always faster than a trip by transit. But, of course, it's complicated. First, making car trips possible for everyone has bad externalities, some of which (e.g., vast, unproductive parking lots, fast traffic through pedestrian-centred areas, etc.) I mentioned in my column. Second, when I'm driving I can't read the newspaper on my phone, so someone might urge that transit, in which someone else does the driving, is more time-efficient than driving myself, even though it also means the overall travel time is longer. Third, as I pointed out in my column, the bus lane is saving time for the majority of users of King Street. It's also costing time for others, who must either endure heavier traffic or find a different route or cast their lot with the poor who ride the bus. As I also pointed out, time is not the only value at stake, and, moreover, I don't think simply adding up time saved and time lost is going to settle the question whether the bus lane is worthwhile, precisely because there is a constellation of other values at stake, too.

Finally, the bus lane is not an end in itself, and it is also a pilot. The purpose of a pilot project is to test, and we can't possibly know, after only three days or a week or two weeks or a month, how effective the bus lane might be as an instrument for realizing some of the values that make it worthwhile. We have to give the pilot enough time to judge whether it has enough of the desirable effects to make it worthwhile, even though it may also be inconvenient.

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