|This is how the Czar rolls|
GorT is always keen on pointing out the flawed approach of mass transit by city planners. Let me state that I’m in favor of mass transit but we should be realistic about its benefits, costs and how people desire to live.
The American Public Transportation Association reported that mass transit ridership reached an all-time high (measured since 1956). Of course, their data isn’t adjusted to a per capita measurement as when you do, it’s a relatively flat line. In fact, that flat line has been level at a low, single digit percent when looking at Urban Travel market share. As reported by Michael Barone in the Washington Examiner:
APTA is promoting the idea of a transit boom because it would like to see lots of federal money continue to be spent on transit. It already is: as King et al. point out, transit receives about 20 percent of federal surface transportation funding while accounting for only 2 to 3 percent of U.S. passenger trips. And as Cox points out, two-thirds of the recent rise in transit commuting occurred in the six “transit legacy cities”–New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston and Washington. These six cities have the nation’s six largest concentrations of downtown office employment, and transit routes were designed to funnel people into and out of these concentrated areas.
Mark Tapscott in the same publication picks it up from there and points out the following:
Vehicle-miles travelled is the key metric here and it peaked in 2007 at the height of the economic expansion that preceded the Great Recession of 2008.
“The variance between when VMT peaked in 2007 and its lowest point in 2011 was 2.8 percent — a decline far less dramatic than the recurring assertions of a shift in U.S. societal behavior. Further belying these claims, U.S. VMT has remained above 2.95 trillion miles for 10 consecutive years,” ARBTA said.
“In 2012 and 2013, vehicle miles traveled on the nation’s highways rose more than 26 billion miles, offsetting almost one-third of the recession-driven decline,” ARBTA said.
In other words, a growing economy produces more driving, while a shrinking economy produces less driving. It’s the economy, stupid, not sociology!
There is a balance to be found and a freedom to embrace. Currently the DC transit system is organized around a spoke-and-hub approach supporting commuter transit from the suburbs into and out of the city. However, with the various suburban work centers – particularly with regards to technology, biotechnology and government agencies – located outside the city and the bulk of the workers also located outside the city, the commute model is more “arc” like. A model that doesn’t map to the underlying mass transit system and one that is being actively blocked for additional road construction.