Monday, May 12, 2008

People Are Using the T Word!

Paul Krugman of the New York Times is blogging transit. Did he use the T word? Really? In the first post he discusses three different cities.

Atlanta is the poster child for sprawl, and as a result it has hardly any alternatives to cars: 89 percent of workers drive; less than 4 percent take public transit.

Boston is an older city, with an extensive transit system from the days when most people didn’t have cars. Even so, 79 percent of the labor force drives to work, but 11 percent do take public transit.

And then there’s Toronto. It’s still more auto-centered than not — but 22 percent of workers take public transit.

The thing about Toronto, they never got rid of their streetcars. I wonder how much that has to do with their ability to keep transit numbers up. Now they are off on a light rail expansion to fill in some gaps.

You can read some more thoughts on Krugman's posts here(Bellows), here(Yglesias), here(City Comforts), and (BT). Are things starting to change in the US? Are people actually starting to discuss land use and transportation? Frank at Orphan Road covers this as well:
I've been ranting for a while now about the connection between land use patterns and energy consumption, but for a whle it seemed like shouting into the wind, especially as national politicians talked about how some magic pill like ethanol was going to solve all our problems. Lately, though, it seems like the connection between land use, public transit, energy consumption and national security is finally starting to gel in people's minds.
I hope you're right.


arcady said...

I think that in a way, people are already ahead of the politicians on this issue. Why else is urban housing suddenly so expensive? Why are so many new high-rise condo buildings going up in cities all over the country? People's housing and transportation preferences are starting to change. But there isn't any kind of organized movement... and I think there will have to be one, sooner or later, in order to overhaul the way transportation is built and funded and operated in this country. There's just too much inertia in the system, and too many accumulated bad regulations (just look at the FRA). But it seems to me that major changes are coming, thanks to higher gas prices inexorably pushing the equilibrium in favor of transit and cities.

Charlie Denison said...

I think a better question than "How many people drive and how many use transit?" is "How many people who could use transit to get to their job do so, and how many people drive despite the transit option?"

Most people who drive to work have no other option. This is a result of building large spread out office parks along highways away from the central city. People who work downtown have the most choices when it comes to commuting, including transit, but also walking and bicycling due to the fact the urban streets are more people-friendly and the distances are shorter than the sea of parking lots and suburban arterials around the office parks.

fpteditors said...

One step at a time. Make transit free in the city. That will change the economics of planning.

Justin said...

We almost lost our streetcars in the 70's. But it was with the effort of Steve Munro, and others that the streetcars were saved. I do not know how Toronto would have coped without them.
If you want to add a new blog to your links, Steve's blog is excellent.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I like Steve's blog. Didn't realize he was so instrumental. It's been on the roll since we started here at TOW :)