How Politics Poisoned U.S. Public Transportation

Vox brings out the subtleties in explaining the underperformance of the U.S. public transportation system.

1 minute read

August 11, 2015, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Broken Bus

mastermaq / flickr

Joseph Stromberg writes an article about the state of transportation in the United States that's part explainer and part polemic by asking the question: "The US spends a ton of money on public transportation. So why is it so terrible?"

After citing some statistics to back up the claim that transit systems in Europe and Asia outperform U.S. transit, Stromberg first debunks a common scapegoat for the woes of transit in the United States: "Most of our cities and suburbs were built out after the 1950s, when the car became the dominant mode of transportation. Consequently, we have sprawling, auto-centric metropolises that just can't be easily served by public transportation."

Canada, however, can be cited as an example of country with a similar development pattern that managed to avoid the ravages of poor transit. Finally, Stromberg settles on his answer: "European, Asian, and Canadian cities treat it as a vital public utility. Most American policymakers — and voters — see transit as a social welfare program."

The article goes into a lot more detail about how exactly the politics of mobility achieved its effect in the United States, as well as describing more consequences of, and potential responses to, the state of public transportation.

Monday, August 10, 2015 in Vox

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