By Dom Nozzi
May 5, 2016
I am not convinced — as a great many people believe — that increased transit ridership reduces congestion.
In my view, I don’t see how removing cars from roadways by recruiting motorists to use transit will be able to reduce car volumes. Motorists who briefly free up road space by becoming transit riders will quickly be replaced by the latent demand of discouraged car drivers who are induced by the freed up road space.
I have seen a number of studies that confirm this by showing new transit does not durably reduce congestion.
In my view, the key is to move away from using congestion or delay as a measure of quality. Let’s keep in mind that to be healthy, cities need agglomeration, slow speeds, and compactness. Being concerned about delay or congestion undercuts these ingredients — ingredients needed for a well-functioning city.
A wise city does not seek to reduce congestion. It seeks to provide housing and transport options (including transit) that enable people to AVOID the inevitable congestion of an attractive city.
I will grant that minimizing delays can be a good idea in suburb or rural areas.
But doing that is toxic for urbanized areas.