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Living Up to the Nation’s Transit Potential

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we've got a post about unfulfilled potential -- American cities that could do a lot better at getting people to ride transit.

The Transit Pass compares the cities with the top ridership to those with the top population:

3187309192_7e189d1328.jpgRiders boarding light rail in Phoenix. Photo by Michael Ruiz via Flickr.
The cities from the population list that are most conspicuously missing from the ridership list are Phoenix (214,000 rides per day) and Dallas (217,000 rides per day). Houston also has low ridership. These three cities represent the worst of car culture in America. They were built around the car and without public transit in mind. However, there is certainly hope in both Dallas and Houston as they build up their respective public transit systems.

Public transit is a necessary growth item across the country, but if it is to be successful, it should be aimed at the largest metropolitan areas first. These areas have the best captive audience seeking to get to work and other downtown or central areas. The country as a whole is in need of more transit options. However, the culture of transit must occur in our largest cities first. New York is doing its part, as are Chicago and Boston (not that there isn’t room for improvement).  More energy needs to be focused on America’s heartland cities that do not have the culture and were largely built up in the age of the automobile.

On the subject of Phoenix: We know from following our member blogs out there that there are plenty of folks working to realize the city's transit potential. While the city and the surrounding communities may be lagging in ridership right now, they've got a new light rail system that has motivated a lot of people.

Member blog Light Rail AZ has a post today on an upcoming meeting at the Tempe Transportation Center (which boasts, among other amenities, a bicycle facility with secure parking and showers). The subject is one that might have been considered laughable in that area just a short time ago -- "Transit and Livable Communities."

And Light Rail Blogger is living a carfree experiment that wouldn't be possible without the new system. 

Our network of bloggers, which is now more than 325 strong, is a great on-the-ground resource for information about how people all across the country -- even in such bastions of the automobile as Phoenix -- are pushing back against the dominance of the car. And helping America realize its potential for sustainable transportation.