Jarrett Walker is a public transit designer/consultant/guru.
His latest blog, addressing "elite projection," turned on a very large light over my head. The people who determine policy are mostly members of a distinct elite. By definition, that perspective and experience is a small minority. When the topic is mass transit design, elite projection often creates unworkable systems.
In challenging elite projection, I am being utterly unreasonable. I am calling upon elites to meet a superhuman standard. Almost everyone refers to their own experience when discussing policy. Who doesn’t want their experience to be acknowledged? But in a society where elites have disproportionate power, the superhuman task of resisting elite projection must be their work. And since I’m one of these elites — not at all in wealth but certainly in education and other kinds of good fortune — it’s sometimes my work as well. Like all attempts to be better people, it’s utterly exhausting and we’ll never get it right. That means the critique of elite projection can’t just take the form of rage. It also has to be empathic and forgiving.
This is not only good advice for transit planning, but highlights why many "the market works better than the
private ETA: public sector" schemes are only gratifying the very top of the market.