Transit Use Thrives on Destination Density

If jobs, services, and other urban amenities are concentrated downtown, suburbanites can use transit to get there quickly without a car. Job sprawl makes transit useless outside central districts.

1 minute read

October 16, 2015, 5:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc


Dutch Fyra Train

Bart / flickr

In cities with centralized job hubs like Chicago and Philadelphia, robust commuter transit makes it possible for suburbanites to go there and back again without a car. Daniel Hertz argues that centralizing urban amenities is the most effective way for cities to capitalize on transit.

Hertz writes, "suburbanites who take public transit to work are actually richer on average than suburbanites in the same neighborhoods who drive. Why is that? Because in places where high-end jobs are concentrated downtown, those high-end earners can take convenient express buses or commuter rail to work [...] If the urbanite works in the suburbs, she almost certainly drives; and if the suburbanite works downtown, there's a good chance he takes the train."

Looking at data from the 2013 American Community Survey, Hertz concludes that "what really matters for how you get to your job, even more than where you live, is where you work." While most suburbs are obviously ill-served when it comes to transit, planning for centrally-located jobs and services will make new commuter rail and buses a more attractive option.

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