How Transit Reform Could Restore Trust in Governance

One writer argues that improving transit in major cities would boost local economies and prove that positive change is possible.

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August 10, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

New York Subway

Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York / Flickr

Writing in Governing, Aaron M. Renn lays out an argument for prioritizing public transit reform in big cities. “Not only is it a genuinely critical need, but it’s an area where tangible progress can be made and the public will see it right away,” Renn writes. In big cities such as New York, Chicago, and Boston—even in the age of remote work—transit “enables the dense, large-scale agglomeration of workers that gives central business districts the highest economic output in the country.”

“The problems are serious, but transit has a number of characteristics that make it a great place to focus governance energy on fixing.” First, Renn writes, it’s not reinventing the wheel: there are many global examples of functional, efficient public transit systems to draw lessons from. At the same time, “Most of the states where these systems are located have little if any anti-transit sentiment,” making transit reform a more easily achievable goal than other, more politicized issues.

For Renn, improving transit is about more than making transportation more effective for urban residents. Transit reform could help restore public faith in government and “create momentum” for solving much thornier challenges.

Monday, August 8, 2022 in Governing

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