Does Transit Build Stronger Communities?

The results of a new poll conducted for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show that even in a notoriously sprawling metro (and perhaps more so), transit riders have a stronger connection to their neighborhoods and the larger region.
JKD Atlanta / Flickr

A poll conducted by SRBI of residents in 10 Georgia counties has found that 51 percent of those who'd ridden Atlanta's transit service (MARTA) at least once in the past six months said they had a strong connection to the Atlanta region, versus 23 percent of nonriders. "In addition, 72 percent of riders had a strong connection to their neighborhood versus 64 percent of nonriders. A total of 64 percent of transit riders felt a strong connection to the county where they reside, as opposed to 55 percent of nonriders," report Craig Schneider and Steve Visser.

"The poll results raise provocative questions as to the value of the transit service beyond getting tens of thousands of people to work each day. Do people have a deeper connection to community because they ride transit? Or do they ride transit because they already have that deeper connection?" According to the authors, "Experts said there’s little research on whether or transit riders feel more connected to their communities."

"Jana Lynott, a transportation analyst for the American Association of Retired Persons, said many people who take transit have an 'urbanist' point of view, meaning they already view themselves as tightly bound up in the region’s social fabric."

"Traveling the transit lines can enhance a rider’s appreciation for their surroundings, said Cynthia Hewitt, an associate professor of sociology at Morehouse College. 'You interact and share space with more people, and that makes you feel a part of the community,' she said."

Full Story: Poll: MARTA riders have stronger connection than nonriders to Atlanta region



Michael Lewyn's picture

Other things equal?

The only one of these differences that seems big enough to be statistically significant is "connection to the Atlanta region." I wonder if those statistics control for the fact that only the two counties that include the city of Atlanta and many of its innermost suburbs (DeKalb and Fulton) have MARTA service. By contrast, other counties in the region are further out, and thus their residents would have less reason to be connected even if they had MARTA.

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