Rejecting the Popular Transit Ridership Narrative

A recent study claimed that transit ridership had reached the highest levels seen in 57 years. Wendell Cox, however, argues that the narrative about a “fundamental shift” in the transportation paradigm is a misrepresentation of the truth.
March 20, 2014, 11am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Noted dissenter Wendell Cox has responded to the recent report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), which claimed that a record 10.7 billion trips were taken on transit in the country.

Cox argues that the APTA’s presentation of its findings distort the whole truth about American transportation. Some of the arguments Cox employs to push back on the APTA’s claims:

  • “Judgments about fundamental shifts and consumer choice today are not more reliable than they would have been in the Great Depression year of 1935.” 
  • “APTA is right to point out that transit ridership has grown faster than vehicle travel in the United States since 1995. Nonetheless, transit's share of urban travel has barely budged, because its 1995 share of travel was so small.” 
  • “Indeed, transit has not taken a single net automobile off the road since 1960, and not in the last five years.”

Cox also examines other data points about working from home and carpooling, as well as cities like Atlanta and Portland—both of which have actually decreased their transit ridership share.

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Published on Thursday, March 20, 2014 in New Geography
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