What Is the Future for Transit After COVID? - A Debate

Critic Randal O'Toole and advocate Todd Litman debate how communities should plan for public transit in the post pandemic future. Should it contract or expand?

August 12, 2021, 5:00 AM PDT

By Todd Litman

Coronavirus and Transportation

Chaz Bharj / Shutterstock

The Pairagraph website is a "hub of discourse between pairs of notable individuals." The current debate pairs transit and Smart Growth critic Randal O'Toole against sustainable transportation advocate Todd Litman, to contrast their visions for the future of public transportation.

O'Toole argues that "The transit industry has become a giant scam, sucking up taxpayer dollars and producing little in return," and "Contrary to popular belief, transit is neither good for the environment nor vital to low-income families."

Litman responds by pointing out that "To be efficient and fair, a transportation system must be diverse to serve diverse demands, including the mobility needs of people who for any reason cannot, should not, or prefer not to drive. Public transit plays three important roles in such a system: it provides affordable mobility for non-drivers; efficient travel on busy urban corridors; and serves as a catalyst for compact, multimodal development where it is easy to get around without a car."

Both present various statistics to support their arguments. Because the format is so limited - 500 words per post - Litman developed a detailed technical report, The Business Case for Post-COVID Public Transit, to support his claims.

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