'Density Lobby' Helps Rail Kill Bus

Investments in rail systems in cities across America are pulling crucial funding away from better-used bus systems, according to this column from Joel Kotkin. He blames the "density lobby".
August 12, 2010, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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"In cities across the country where there have been massive investments in light rail--from the Portland area to Dallas and Charlotte, N.C., and a host of others--the percentage of people taking transit has stagnated or even declined. Nationwide, the percentage of people taking transit to work is now lower than it was in 1980.

None of this is to argue that we should not invest in transit. It even makes sense if the subsidy required for each transit trip is far higher than for a motorist on the streets or highways. Transit should be considered a public good, particularly for those without access to a car--notably young people, the disabled, the poor and the elderly. Policy should focus on how we invest, at what cost and, ultimately, for whose benefit."

Kotkin cites examples in cities across the U.S. where funding fro fledgling rial systems has distracted officials from bus systems that actually serve more of the public. He faults voices pushing for more density in urban areas, which tend to call for increased rail options in urbanizing areas.

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Published on Monday, August 9, 2010 in Forbes
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