Another Lie of Omission
HART, our transit authority, keeps emphasizing that our $5.2 billion rail project will take 40,000 cars, or 48,000 car trips, off our roads by 2030 compared to the No Build Alternative, which is to say, doing nothing. To the voters that sounds like a huge number that would significantly reduce traffic congestion.
However, so as not to be misleading, we need to put that number in context. According to the Final Environmental Impact Statement’s (FEIS) official projections in the table below, the rail project would reduce daily car trips by 48,000, but it would be in the face of a 520,000 increase in daily car trips because of population growth. That would mean 2.8 million car trips daily in 2030.
A 48,000 trip reduction means rail would take just 1.7 percent of the cars off the road. Put another way, if we do not build rail we will experience an increase in car traffic of 23 percent, and if we do build it, 21 percent. In short, a 48,000 reduction sounds big but it would be barely detectible.
So, in one way, saying that taking 48,000 car trips off the road is true, in that it is not false, but by the dictionary’s second definition of a lie, “Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression,” it is certainly a lie of omission.
For those of your colleagues and friends who only read the newspaper headlines, please enlighten them; they will be grateful.