thinks it's a good idea -- for someone else," said Ted Matley,
executive director of the Wilmington Area Planning Council, "But
are we connecting our rhetoric with our actions?"
and the council raise the issue in relatively strong terms in
the current issue of the council's newsletter and indicate that
something of a crossroads has been reached. "The critical issue
will be whether we will continue to follow through on transit
projects or whether they will be dropped once it's time to
commit funds," the article said.
interview with Delaforum, Matley said he is "not pessimistic
about the ability of public transit to perform, but transit
can't perform unless it is supported."
proposal to link Wilmington and Dover with rail service by
upgrading a sparsely used but existing freight line is likely to
provide a good test of will on the part of both government and
the business sector. On paper, at least, the idea seems
practical to the extent it would not have to be a from-scratch
Matley said, "it is a powerful idea to connect the state capital
with the dominant concentration of economic activity" and that
is further enhanced by the fact the route passes through
southern New Castle County, the area most certain to see future
that he doesn't regard an apparently long gestation period --
2010 has been cited as a realistic target date for the project
to become a reality -- as a deterrent. Environmental and design
work and, more to the point, the fact that planning and actual
construction necessarily have to be accomplished parallel to
other transportation projects will require that extended a
that one-time rail excursions to the state fair and auto races
were successful in attracting patronage does not mean that
simply running rail cars back and forth would work, he said..
"It has to be done right if you're going to attract people on a
regular basis," he said.
Dover-Wilmington rail line has been presented as a potential,
the planning council is at the beginning stage of pursuing the
possibility of a regional transit system for northern New Castle
County. It is about to award a consultant contract to conduct a
feasibility study. So-called light rail service, which might
take the form of a monorail system, has been advanced as a core
element of such a system.
form it might take, a regional system is "an idea that is don't
think is going to go away," Matley said.
the interview and the newsletter articles, he raised the point
that inability to must public support and governmental action
could prevent its realization.
economic times, he said, provide a valid test of the level of
commitment. "Our elected leaders say they are in favor of it but
we can't afford it. What that really said is that it isn't a
priority," he said.
showing up at the national level where Amtrak, the national
passenger railroad, is in danger of being liquidated. "It's
being told it has to be self-supporting, but Congress won't let
it cut services which can't be self-supporting," he said.
alternative on the local level to an attractive transit system
is what Matley calls a 'fringe' system. "We have to have a
transit system because a large segment of our population
requires it." But that necessarily will result in the large
majority of the population continuing to rely on automobiles for
personal, and mostly solo, transportation, he said.
say they don't take public transportation because it's not
convenient and frequent enough. But the reason it isn't more
convenient and frequent is that too few people are using it," he
"When it comes to transit, we're
saying the right things. But are we taking the correct actions?"