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How Can the U.S. Grow Transit Ridership? Start by Looking North

"Canada looks a lot like much of the US, in terms of economic types, city sizes and ages, development patterns," Jarret Walker says. So why can't Americans keep pace with Canadian public transit?
April 22, 2018, 7am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Montreal Transit
Benoit Daoust

Transit ridership is falling. The growth of ride share, low fuel costs and increased car ownership are all likely part of the reason, but it's possible to grow transit in this climate. "But notice the big picture:  In a year when urban transit ridership fell overall in the US, it rose in Canada," Jarret Walker writes.

Canada is doing some things notably differently than the United States is, Walker writers: "Canadian cities just have more service per capita than the most comparable US cities.  This results in transit networks that remain more broadly useful in the face of competition from other modes." Vancouver, where transit ridership has grown more than any other city in either country can be a particularly instructive example with its concentration of development around transit stations and prevalence of higher gas prices. "Notably, ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are not available in Vancouver due to provincial legislation," Walker adds.

To the United States, Canada is the "least foreign country" Walker argues. Americans should be looking to make their cities more like their Canadian counterparts.

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Published on Thursday, April 19, 2018 in Human Transit
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