Wednesday, August 3
Public Transit's Success Unfairly Measured
Repeating an earlier point, a letter to the Examiner reminds us that regional public transit's effect on traffic congestion is grossly underrated--and that this fact says little about whether transit experiences success:
In truth, [regional transit agencies] made a huge dent in [long commutes and traffic], but we don't appreciate this until a BART strike or something similar. Over 1 million Bay Area trips are made each day on transit. If we had to accommodate them by car, the number of freeway lanes would have to double.
Transit never makes freeway traffic disappear. Roads in Paris, New York and Tokyo are no freer flowing than here. Good transit gives people a choice and helps a region move and grow without more freeways. A quiet success story of San Francisco is that our air is cleaner with fewer freeways and more transit riders than 20 years earlier. Congestion is a feature of a thriving, healthy city, not a sign of failing transit.
Very right; didn't Bay Area traffic become lighter and smoother only after the economy dove?
And the logic of reduced congestion as a sign of transit's success reeks of "98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others." Why would a car owner take public transportation to a destination if the road is faster? To avoid parking fees in denser spots, to make a pro-mass transit statement, etc., but the car usually wins this matchup. So, if public transit's success is measured by the convenience of driving a personal automobile, mass transportation will always fail.
file under San Francisco Bay Area, Bay Area, public transportation, mass transportation, public transit, mass transit, transportation, transit, congestion, traffic congestion, road congestion, BART, Bay Area Rapid Transit, SamTrans, San Mateo County Transit District, success