Getting More People to Use Transit

 

By Dom Nozzi

November 14, 2002

I’ve said it over and over.

We MUST have market signals telling us that driving is expensive, parking that is scarce, compact and relatively dense development, traffic congestion, or a combination of those city-bus-1factors if we ever expect meaningful numbers of “choice” travelers to use transit. Ain’t going to happen any other way. It explains why quality transit is available in larger (congested) cities, and why voters (such as those in Palm Beach County, Florida) are willing to increase their taxes to DEMAND that better transit be provided.

It is not that the communities with quality transit were miraculously more enlightened than those without such transit. Understanding the need for quality transit does not happen in a vacuum, nor is it a mystery as to how the understanding (and, therefore, the political will) comes about. The enlightenment happens when it becomes costly, painful, or both, to use a car.

Without “car discouragement” factors, we’ll have empty buses, no matter how high-quality the buses are.

Or how cheap it is to ride them.

 

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