six members of the no-tav movement sentenced for crimes during protests, but two acquitted

Six activists were sentenced yesterday for crimes during protests in 2010 against a high-speed railway being built between Lyon, France and Turin, Italy. They were each sentenced to five months. Two other activists were acquitted. According to an Italian daily newspaper article,

No-TAV activists have organized a series of protests against the high-speed rail link throughout Italy over the last few years. Some have included violent clashes with police and disruption of highway traffic. Opponents of the project contest its high cost and impact on the environment.

Rail projects, though often perceived as a form of progress, are enormously expensive and not cost-effective compared to buses. In addition, buses can easily be re-routed if riders change their minds over time about where they want to go. Instead of funding an ever-expanding rail system, which benefits private contractors and people who own commercial property near rail stations, governments should improve existing pubic transit for those who depend on it (e.g., elderly people, people with disabilities, and low-income people) by adding bus shelters, evening and night-time service, and greater access to doctors and hospitals.

Improving existing public transit is also an effective means of protecting the natural world, because it removes some of the dirtiest vehicles from the road, reduces the number of motor vehicle miles traveled, and avoids the environmental destruction involved in constructing and maintaining new rail projects.