A Comedian's Brutal Takedown of Public Transportation's Failures
A new episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj was published today to YouTube that examines with
The episode opens with Minhaj attempting to take public transit to the show in New York City, only to have a bus never show, and a train get delayed for a multiple reasons, until the conductor finally just tells riders "your wife won't remember you."
In the opening monologue, Minhaj says public transportation isn't just destroying his life, "everyone hates public transportation." An article published by CityLab in 2015 gets a shout out to back up that point—the article cites research by USC Professor Lisa Schweitzer published in the Journal of the American Planning Association.
Minhaj, however, quickly expresses his support for the potential for public transit to be a tremendous benefit, citing a 2015 study that links better transportation as the most effective tool for improving economic mobility, and his regret that transit is experiencing a death spiral of reduced ridership, reduced service, and increased fares—each leading to more of the other.
Then, Minhaj gets into the causes for driving's dominance and public transit's decline: the list includes zoning laws, but the focus of the show is devoted to "hidden forces" that want Americans in cars instead of transit. "American Public Transit Is Under Attack" proclaims the show at about 6:43 in the video.
The culprits include the Americans for Prosperity, funded by the Koch brothers—the latter group has recently defeated a transit funding initiative in Nashville and helped get an anti-transit initiative onto the ballot in Phoenix. Minhaj also mentions how the U.S. Department of Transportation has been delaying funding for transit projects allocated by Congress. ("It's longer, harder, and more expensive than it needs to be," says Minhaj. "It's basically a destination wedding.")