What Transit Can Do and What It Can’t Do | The Antiplanner
What can it not do?
These questions are critical if we want to create a valuable transit network. Getting them wrong commonly creates problems.
"One of Captain Jack Sparrow’s famous sayings in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was, “The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do.” The Antiplanner’s faithful ally, Tom Rubin, echoes these words in a recent presentation focusing on what transit can do and what transit can’t do. In particular, he says, transit can provide mobility for people who can’t or don’t want to drive, but it can’t relieve congestion, reduce transportation costs to taxpayers, save energy, reduce pollution, create real estate development, or stimulate the economy of a region."
After watching Portlandia inane adoption of every transit mode possible, this is undoubtedly true.
"Statistical analysis of the 74 largest urbanized areas in the U.S. over a
26-year period suggests that increasing transit utilization does not lead to
a reduction in traffic congestion; nor does decreasing transit utilization
lead to an increase in traffic congestion.
• Policies designed to promote transit utilization can in certain instances
increase traffic congestion—as appears to have been the case in Portland,
• Vehicle-miles traveled per freeway lane-mile is strongly correlated with
traffic congestion: the more people drive relative to available freeway
capacity, the worse congestion gets.
• Data from New York and Los Angeles indicate that the most effective
way to increase transit utilization is by reducing fares, as well as by
improving basic, pre-existing service."
Transit Utilization and Traffic Congestion: Is There a Connection?
Let me reiterate, in Portlandia we have seen, even with all of our transit options, a substantial increase in congestion. This is caused in part by transit itself, the light rail is given priority and this causes the busy roads it runs on to become very congested, and, in turn, that creates congestion on other roads. It is also caused by the diversion of funds from productive transportation uses like highway construction to the construction of more light rail which comprises less than 1% of the metro area trips. It also happens because the Portlandia planners control the Urban Growth Boundary, zoning, and land use planning, as well as transportation, and transit. The planners openly admit they are attempting to make congestion as bad as possible to encourage transit ridership.
Let that last inanity sink in. The transit planners here want congestion, because they think that shifting the auto commute from 15 minuets to 25 minutes (and correspondingly the transit commute from 25 minutes to 45 minutes) people in Portlandia will choose transit. They haven't. They have chosen to walk, ride their bicycles, and use other modes of transportation, as well as their autos. But Transit, decade on decade, continues to decline, except for minor improvements during recessions/weak economic periods.
The gold standard for any transit is cheap, rapid, door to door transportation, in a clean, safe, comfortable manner. If people can combine a bicycle or walking workout with their commute, more power to them. But most cannot. And transit is not clean, safe, comfortable, rapid, or door to door. If one counts in the taxpayer subsidies, it is not even cheap.
It seems that share ride autos will continue to weaken transits grip on commuters, and metro area transportation. I fully expect one of the share ride models to begin to offer a car pool commute option which could lower prices to close to transit, and less than transit with taxpayer subsidies. These rides would pollute less than transit, be door to door, and pretty much meet all the standard for the gold standard. This is a market yet untapped.
There, I just gave you a billion dollar idea, for free, don't say I've never done anything for you.
The self drive auto is coming and will simply revolutionize human transportation, saving time, and making us much more productive. With transits days numbered, the thing we should do is attempt to manage the decline, lower cost, and increase the number of people who are able to achieve the gold standard via transit.
To understand what transit can and cannot do, this report is a valuable resource. Nice light summer reading if you will.