The fallacy of mass transit as a transportation solution

There is a new article on that once again illustrates how misguided mass transit supporters are when they offer public transportation as a viable solution to Atlanta’s traffic problem. The article is entitled “Transit: The 4 percent solution” and you can read the whole thing here. Below are a few highlights and you can click on the graphs to see larger versions:

A new Brookings  Institution report provides an unprecedented glimpse into the lack of potential  for transit to make a more meaningful contribution to mobility in the nation’s  metropolitan areas.


… according to Brookings, only seven percent of jobs in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas can be reached  by residents in 45 minutes during the morning peak period (when transit service  is the most intense). Among the 29 metropolitan areas with more than 2,000,000  population, the 45 minute job access average was 5.6 percent, ranging from 12.6  percent in Boston to 1.3 percent in Riverside-San Bernardino. The New York metropolitan area’s 45 minute job access figure was 9.8 percent (Figure 1).


Transit’s overall median work trip travel time was  more than double that of driving alone (Figure 3).


More money cannot significantly  increase transit access to jobs. Since 1980, transit spending (inflation adjusted)  has risen five times as fast as transit ridership. A modest goal of doubling 30  minute job access to between 6 and 8 percent would require much more than  double the $50 billion being spent on transit today.

Moreover, there is no  point to pretending that traffic will get so bad that people will abandon their  cars for transit (they haven’t anywhere) or that high gas prices will force  people to switch to transit. No one switches to transit for trips to places transit  doesn’t go or where it takes too long.

There is a great deal of information I have not included here so please read the entire article to understand the context before drawing any conclusions for yourself. But the fact remains that there are volumes of evidence showing transit is not a practical solution to Atlanta’s traffic problems yet many of our area’s transportation decision makers choose to ignore those facts.

Even with a transit system subsidized by billions of dollars each year in a metropolitan area as dense as New York City there are fewer than 10% of the residents that can get to work on transit in less than 45 minutes. That isn’t a solution it is a problem.

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