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Bryan Faragher
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While I think you have the right message, it is important to note that the support / usage gap is really quite meaningless when transit ridership continues to grow by double digits per quarter and recent transit investments in cities from LA to Austin to Washington DC are quite popular: The rate of US Public Transportation use is as high as it was in 1956, which means that the love affair with the car is over and while Congress is crippled by conservatives who will double the military budget but cut transportation funds, even for the highways and bridges they once loved so much, local cities are going alone and the investments are paying off. There is nothing wrong with a support / usage gap but I think your narrative is misleading. It is the same mentality they had here in LA's San Fernando Valley when they created the Orange Line. The City Council and MTA are all rich people and their friends would never ride public transportation, yet because most of the city is made up of working class people, ridership hit 2020 levels in 2010 and is now overcrowded with passengers. This elitist pro-car mentality stems from the same kind of research you are citing, that nobody "important" rides public transportation, yet the lines are all packed and most cities can't expand them fast enough. Even LA's Red Line is now under fire for not having enough parking for passengers. Freeways cost dramatically more, are a huge drain on the Federal budget and nobody complains that they don't make money. That's because it transformed America. A huge public transportation is the next step not to compete with highways, but to relieve them from the massive traffic jams that are clogging the cities arteries like job-killing cholesterol. So I agree with you in spirit, but I think your narrative seems to feed into the conservative narrative which is a fantasy. Just ask the mayors in red states like Oklahoma and Texas. Public transportation is the future and even those places are willing to raise taxes to do it.
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Oct 24, 2014