Transit and Train Truths for Austin

COST Commentary: A Heritage Foundation “Backgrounder” paper by Wendell Cox, “Transit Policy in an Era of the Shrinking Federal Dollar”, systematically dismantles the major myths of transit, piece by piece, with irrefutable evidence and analyses of facts from extensive transit systems’ experience; revealing the following key truths:

1. Transit and, especially rail transit, will not relieve roadway congestion.
2. Transit does not provide effective mobility for low income citizens.
3. Transit does not reduce emissions and improve air quality.
4. U. S. transit is not significant except in the 6 “Legacy” cities of New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia where 54% of all transit use occurs.
5. Insignificant numbers of people abandon cars for transit.
6. Transit is not competitive with the automobile for a vast majority of trips and can never be.
7. Transit provides access to a very small segment of employment locations.
8. Transit is not cost effective, produces little value for huge taxpayer subsidies and does not well serve its major purpose to provide effective transportation for those who have no alternative.

Two of Cox’s most revealing comments are: “Why is it that people have not abandoned their automobiles to switch to transit? Commentators often talk of America’s “love affair with the car,” without recognizing a similar attachment to refrigerators, the Internet, and other modern conveniences. The attachment is to convenience and (affordable) products that enhance their lives.”
“There is also a perception that people “have a choice” and that transit can be readily substituted for automobile use. The reality is that there is no practical transit alternative for the vast majority of trips in the modern metropolitan area.”

In addition, other postings on this site destroy other transit myths with the following additional truths:

..9. Rail Transit is the least cost-effective and most highly tax subsidized of major public transit.
10. Transit does not provide promised economic development
11. Rail transit is not high capacity.
12. Rail transit, on busy streets, creates major safety hazards in applications such as Austin’s plan.
13. Rail transit creates ugly, visual pollution of cherished, downtown views.
14. Rail transit causes major disruption of traditional charitable and other downtown activities.

Massive, Wasteful Spending on Rail Transit Degrades Overall Transportation was posted just after this one, providing further supporting information regarding transportation, mobility and transit.

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