Arguing for Cars, Not Transit, as a Poverty Solution

Data show that cars are more effective than transit in providing poor people to jobs and economic opportunity. But does that mean transit systems are fundamentally inadequate or just currently inadequate?
chungking / Shutterstock

Scott Beyer cites a number of studies, from a 2011 study by the Brooking Institute to a 2014 study by the Urban Institute, to argue that cars are a better investment than transit for improving economic mobility.

"Of course, these ideas can be challenging to urban planners, who cling to the default assumption that cities must improve mass transit to reduce poverty. If existing services remain inadequate, then planners use it as an argument for more funding. But what if some of the money went instead towards increasing automobile access? Would that not better help economic conditions for the poor?"

Beyer's article piggybacks on an April article on the Washington Post's Wonkblog, but with a slightly different frame. That is, Beyer's argument is more anti-transit, citing the bus system in Charlottesville, Virginia as a model of inefficiency and supporting Wendell Cox's arguments for subsidizing car ownership.

Full Story: How Cars, Not Subways, Will Make Us Richer


Brand new! Urban Grid City Collection

Each city has its own unique story. Commemorate where you came from or where you want to go.
Grids and Guide Red book cover

Grids & Guides

A notebook for visual thinkers. Available in red and black.

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $25.
City Plate table setting

New Arrival! City Plates

City downtown cores printed on gorgeous decorative collectible porcelain plates.