The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal

Informed but opinionated commentary and analysis on urban transportation topics from the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

Our Mission: Monkeywrench the Anti-Transit Forces

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Thursday, May 22, 2003

Wendell Cox is Not Mediocre, but Sometimes, He's Asinine - 1

Home of More Transit Links Than You can Possibly Check(tm), Unless you have no life other than websurfing

"Truth passes through three phases: 1) It is ridiculed. 2) It is violently opposed. 3) It is accepted as self-evident." Albert Schopenhouer. In the United States, rail is currently passing through Phase Two.

From the Cabalmaster:

The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal is pleased to present our groundbreaking critique of you-know-who's "worldview." The gospel according to Mr. Fudge, as it were.

We invite all interested websurfers to check out the following page in Wendell's "Urban Transit 'Fact' Book." (Try not to laugh . . .) The page is titled "Keys to Urban Rail Success" (We asked you not to laugh . . .), and it's at

Since this is part of Wendell's online empire ("The Public Purpose"), we weren't surprised that the Weasel King offers a "key" without really saying what it opens.

(The above, for the benefit of websurfers pressed for time, is our mock-sophisticated way of pointing out that Wendell never defines "Urban Rail Success.")

Oh, there it is! "The prerequisites for rail success with respect to controlling traffic congestion . . ." That, of course, means "auto traffic congestion."

Getta loada that! "Controlling traffic congestion!"

So, if you want to design a successful rail system, don't worry about passenger traffic volume, passenger traffic density, operating efficiency with respect to existing transit, promoting pedestrian-friendly land use, and so forth.

You don't have to worry about those "complain-a-sauruses" called "passengers" at all.

All ya gotta do is control auto traffic congestion!

We doubt that even the Weasel King would dare put this on his website, but the logical corollary goes as follows: A rail system that fails to "control" traffic congestion should be scrapped forthwith. As in:


This obviously provides an opportunity for immense profit. We TransitCabalists see dollar signs dancing before our eyes. Our coup will be legendary . . .

(Yeah, we know: at least one of you websurfers is already mumbling, "Just what do these smart-as . . . er, Opinionated Ones . . . have in mind?" Read on!)

The Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal asserts that s/he who proves that a given rail system is not "successful" -- by proving that it doesn't "control" traffic congestion -- should by right receive the contract to scrap it. And so, the larger the rail system, the greater the profit.

There is, unfortunately, a problem: Wendell’s criterion contains a "Weasel Word" . . . no surprise here . . .

Note that Wendell didn't say "reduce" or "eliminate;" he said "control." This choice of words gives him lots of wiggle room:

--"Eliminate:" a question of fact. Present or absent; either it's gone or it isn't.

--"Reduce:" a question of degree; was that 10 percent reduction, a 30 percent reduction, or?

--"Control:" a question of interpretation, i.e. rhetorical argument; just what do you mean by "control," Wendell?

(Anyone wanting to thoroughly debunk the Weasel King might systematically document the degree to which he relies on rhetorical argument: rhetoric disguised as facts, rhetoric to support shaky or questionable "facts," and rhetoric to argue against facts that he doesn't like. But please, PLEASE don't do that; we'd lose our favorite target for ridicule!)

Back to our scheme: We're not going to bother with any rail system in the U.S., or even Europe. We're gonna PROVE, beyond question, that the "ultimate" rail network does not work, should therefore be scrapped, and that the responsible authorities should permit the Secret Worldwide Transit Cabal to manage the scrapping (out of gratitude, you see).

"Ultimate rail network" refers, of course, to Tokyo.

(TOKYO! Think of the loot, the LOOT!)

If you want to see how bad the rail "lack-of-success" story in Tokyo really is, then we've got just the link for you! This will take you to the real-time traffic information page on the Metropolitan Expressway Public Corporation ("MEX") website. Congestion levels are indicated by color. Options include the toll expressway network, and "ordinary" streets and roads in various areas of the metropolitan region.

Couple of caveats: Although the MEX English-language website has a lot of information, real-time traffic information is available only in Japanese, and the link may not work without Japanese-compatible software. Also, "real-time" means real time, as in local time. So, if you're in New York and you want to check out the evening rush hour in Tokyo, you'll have to be online at 2 or 3 in the morning (the time difference varies by season because Japan does not observe daylight saving time).

This type of display is, of course, not unique to Tokyo and can be found online for some US cities: and for Paris (If you like webcams, take a look at London traffic using the "jamcam" options on the BBC London website;if you want to see a London traffic jam, you'll have to take the time difference into account.) But it does support the view of Your Favorite Transit Pundits that only a weasel would seriously offer "controlling traffic congestion" as the one-and-only criteria for evaluation of "urban rail success."

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