Public transit was one deciding factor when free agent pitching ace Cliff Lee chose to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies last week. I am not making this up.
The left hander had previously pitched for the Phillies, and his wife, Kristen, enjoyed urban living in Philadelphia, including its abundant transit options. She didn't care for the Dallas area, where her husband played last season for the Texas Rangers.
"We liked the easy travel on a train for our kids to other cities and the good cultural experience for them here," Kristen Lee told the Philadelphia Daily News.
"There's so many things that are so great," she told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "How easy it is to get from Point A to Point B. Even in Dallas, where we were staying, it was hard to get to the ballpark because of traffic."
The Phillies play in a fairly new stadium that is a three-block walk from the Broad Street line, which Kristen Lee and her two young sons rode during the family's first stint in Philadelphia. The Rangers' stadium is six miles away from the Trinity Railway Express that links Dallas and Fort Worth.
Indeed, there may be no more car-dependent major urban area in the United States than the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Although Los Angeles has a deserved reputation for cars, cars, cars – and I'll concede you can't ride the train to Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles has a fair and rapidly expanding system of heavy rail, light rail and subways, as well as lots of housing, businesses and attractions (including Staples Center arena) along the transit lines. It's worth noting that you can ride Metrolink or Amtrak to Anaheim's baseball stadium.
Transit was hardly the only factor in the Lees' decision. Kristen spoke favorably about Philly's many cultural amenities and dining options. Her husband knows the team is loaded with talent. Still, the episode provides an interesting glimpse. This land use and transit planning stuff does matter.
– Paul Shigley