The Great Society Subway author Zachary Schrag appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi show on WAMU last Wednesday, comparing Metro’s current expansion debate with the debates when Metro was being built.

Tom Coburn comes off looking a lot like Congressman William Huston Natcher, the closest thing to a villain in the book. Natcher held up Metro funding for years because DC refused to build freeways like the Three Sisters Bridge (which would have generally conencted the Whitehurst to the Spout Run Parkway).

Schrag’s answer was less satisfying when an anti-Purple Line caller (starting at 18:58) claimed that the line would “exacerbate class differences” and “wipe out small communities.” Schrag claimed that’s unavoidable in a “capitalist system”, but missed a chance to discuss (perhaps because this is outside his field) how public investment in roads has created much greater class differences by causing disinvestment in cities or forcing working-class people to live far from their jobs. Maybe Kojo can get Christopher Leinberger on the show next; in the meantime, I encourage everyone to read The Option of Urbanism.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.