In a recent blog post (at http://www.planetizen.com/node/44518) Steven Polzin argues that drivers are more productive because they get places faster. His post, in turn, generated an avalanche of critiques noting the negative externalities of auto travel (e.g. pollution, death and injury from traffic accidents, health costs of obesity, etc.).
But what I'd like to address is something else: the positive productivity benefits of transit use. Let's suppose that it takes me 30 minutes to reach destination X on the bus, and 15 minutes by car. Obviously, the car is more productive. Right?
One of the most widely cited numbers in contemporary transportation media coverage and policy discussions is the cost of congestion estimates that Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) annually produces as part of the Urban Mobility Report series. The 2009 version of that report (http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/) shows an estimate of the cost of congestion of $87.4 Billion for the top 439 U.S.
Walkable Los Angeles. Casual visitors may be surprised to learn that this is not an oxymoron.