Examples of Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) opponents influencing rail systems abound, but this one caught my eye from Nathanael Johnson at Grist:
Here’s an example told to me by Metropolitan Transportation Commission PR man Randy Rentschler: If you have a chance to ride BART in Oakland between the Lake Merritt and 12th Street stations, you’ll notice the train slows to a crawl to make two turns, first one way and then the other. The train makes these turns to avoid the vestigial outlines of a hardware store whose owner didn’t want the subway running under him. The store closed before BART opened — but all the riders since have lost a little bit of their lives to that dispute.
It reminds me of a story I told in Railtown from Ed McSpedon, who oversaw the construction of the Long Beach Blue Line. Auto dealers in downtown Long Beach objected to the line going past their dealerships, arguing that people riding rail don’t buy cars. So they forced a terminus loop through the downtown to reroute and slow the train down. Of course, by the time the line opened, all the dealerships had moved away. So yet again:
“…all the riders since have lost a little bit of their lives to that dispute.”