Blog Posts tagged transit

The technical challenge of making transit work better – while essential – pales in significance to the adaptive challenge of building cities and a transportation policy system in which transit can work better.

The main hurdle inhibiting not only public transportation but also relatively low-cost solutions such as bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure is not one of cost or governmental competence, but rather one of values.

Amtrak’s loan backlash shows that a certain transportation funding argument is alive and well – and it’s one we’ve been refuting for a long time. It goes like this: If transit projects don’t sustain themselves financially, or even turn a profit, we shouldn’t support them with taxpayer dollars. 

Can the small-scale financial and social benefits that are out there for drivers be applied more equitably to also benefit transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists?

This weekend, for my son’s birthday party, we invited a handful of his friends to meet us in downtown Santa Rosa for a movie and then a bus ride back to our house for cake and games. The eight first-graders loved both the movie and riding the bus. For me, the day’s travel experiences highlighted how transportation pricing and land use requirements don’t square with enabling people to drive less (as many people say they wish were possible) or with Sonoma County’s pledge to reduce its global warming pollution.

At a time when demand for transit in Boston is booming, we need to focus on approaches that are more likely to set off a “virtuous cycle” of rising ridership and revenue for the T, not a downward spiral.

The political viability of the nation’s current model of transportation policy – which ties revenue for and spending on highways to gas taxes – is dependent on a Millennial generation that is ambivalent about whether we should be spending money on highways in the first place.

We create transit systems to benefit society, not to maximize profits. Raising fares on transit riders might increase revenue, but if the effect of doing so is to put transit users back onto congested streets and highways, deny people access to economic opportunity, and increase pollution, the benefits to society are reduced.