Taking Stock and Looking Forward: What's Next for Public Transit?

A group of 12 leading transit experts debriefed on the consequences of the pandemic for public transit, and proposed a future that centers public transit as a tool for economic recovery and righting the past wrongs of the planning profession.

2 minute read

June 7, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Coronavirus and Transportation

DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock

"Covid-19 wreaked havoc with America’s public transportation networks," writes Tanya Snyder to introduce the proceedings of a recent panel discussion between 12 leading transit experts on the future of public transit in the post-pandemic world.

"Empty buses and train cars were a good sign, at first, that people were heeding calls for social distancing," continues Snyder. "Within weeks, we realized that grocery employees and hospital workers, renamed “essential workers” and lauded as heroes, were struggling to get to work as the transit systems they relied on cut schedules. People found it hard to make essential trips and access medical care. It turned out that even during a lockdown, public transportation is the artery through which the lifeblood of cities flows."

The cultural and economic position of public transit evolved constantly during the pandemic, and the likelihood that the future of public transit is likely to be a source of political consternation and technological innovation inspired Politico to gather a panel of 12 leading transit advocates, planners, system designers, and government officials from around the world for a two-hour zoom discussion about the future of transit.

The discussion started with a recap of the major events and themes of transit during the pandemic (e.g., "widespread service cuts," disparate impacts, migration, disappearing rush hour, and "hub-and-spoke systems became obsolete"). The second part of the discussion focused on how to "future-proof" public transit for life after COVID. The subheadings of the part of the discussion are listed below, with more details provided in the source article:

  1. It's time to end transit red-lining
  2. Refocus on bus service
  3. Detangle jurisdictions
  4. Make driving worse
  5. Revamp data systems

Thursday, May 27, 2021 in Politico

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