Earth To Planners: Americans Want Roads, Not Transit

<p>The current strategy of encouraging traffic congestion and focusing on transit doesn't align with the majority of American's preferences. Instead of continuing to follow failed policy, planners should start using new solutions to increase capacity.</p>
March 21, 2007, 9am PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"If you want to know why so few people use mass transit, meet Sue, a college administrator in Minneapolis. If anyone would use transit, Sue would. She's single, she lives in a condominium, and she can afford any additional out-of-pocket expense. She could use her city's Hiawatha Line, a light rail route newly completed at a cost of $715 million. But she doesn't, although she feels guilty about it. That's because her car gets her where she needs to go. Faster....Is it any wonder Sue drives to work rather than taking the bus or train?"

"According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the typical driver in America's metropolitan areas takes 21 minutes to get from home to work. If you take public transit, the average commute stretches to 36 minutes. That's 71 percent longer. Workers in the New York metropolitan area have the longest commute: There it takes an average of 52 minutes to get to work, even though the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut mass transit systems are among the most extensive in the nation."

"[Yet] For most regional planning agencies, automobility and congestion relief simply are not high on the priority list...The planning profession clings tenaciously to its foundational myths. Even as overwhelming evidence to the contrary piles up, planners keep claiming that cars are inefficient and socially destructive; that expanding road capacity isn't practical; and, most fundamentally, that the government can determine how we choose to travel by planning where and how we live."

That's unfortunate, especially since ... congestion is many residents' "No. 1 livability issue."

"[But] Believe it or not, there are ways to reduce traffic congestion, even if most politicians and planners haven't been eager to adopt them."

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Published on Tuesday, March 20, 2007 in Reason Online
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