Conservative or Liberal, Transit Matters

After years of being unfairly associated with conservatism, auto-dependence should be an issue of concern for all Americans--largely because of what it means to the fabric of their communities.
April 22, 2009, 9am PDT | Judy Chang
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"We often hear complaints that transit systems do not earn profits. This is true (with a few exceptions), but this does not mean that transit systems are a waste of money. When was the last time you heard someone complain about how a local road never manages to turn a profit? If we held roads and transit projects to similar standards of profitability, we would build very few roads indeed. Transportation infrastructure is a public good, and few dispute that the government should play an active role in providing it. In spite of the problems with thinking about transit as if it were business, however, transit- and pedestrian-oriented transportation projects would actually benefit if transportation decisions were guided entirely by market forces, because the pro-automobile biases in current policies at the local, state, and federal levels, would be eliminated.

Pro-highway, anti-transit, anti-pedestrian policies work against the core beliefs of American conservatives in another and even more important way: they create social environments that are hostile to real community. Once again, the ways in which automobile-oriented development prevents communities from forming are too numerous to list exhaustively. They range from the very obvious to the very subtle."

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Published on Friday, April 17, 2009 in The Witherspoon Institute
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