Talking Headways Podcast: Taking Transit Numbers for a Spin

What a week! Transit ridership skyrocketed (ahem, by 1.1 percent) to levels not seen since 1956 (depending how you look at it). Radio Shack is shutting down 20 percent of its stores. Is brick-and-mortar retail collapsing — and is it just as well, if getting delivery from Amazon is more efficient than driving to the store anyway? Plus, there’s a new video game for transit nerds to stay up all night obsessing over!

And we tackle the fundamental question of how to make a real change in how people get around. Will it happen just by improving transit and other modes — or do you need to make driving less appealing, as Emily Badger suggests in Atlantic Cities?

Tell us what you think in the comments. And remember, you can subscribe to the RSS feed or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

  • 42apples

    Yes, driving needs to be made much less appealing. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be from big government planning. Spend less on highway boondoggles, congestion pricing and more toll roads, VMT tax, pollution taxes in cities, eliminate parking minimums and charging for parking, etc, How anything that actually works will get implemented in a democracy I have no idea.

  • Jame

    I have a car, I choose to use it and not use it depending on where I am going.

    I drive to work, because my work/home locations are incompatible transit-wise. And If I were to move closer to work, I’d pay 2X what I am paying now in somewhere I like less.

    I choose not to drive when parking is annoying due to price or availability. Like going to SF or downtown Oakland or the Grand Lake area of Oakland.

    I “schedule” transit time when I have stuff to read, and driving and reading are incompatible.

    If we want people to drive less, I think the low hanging fruit is to help people convert more of the non work trips to non driving modes. As they say, most stuff we do is within 2-3 miles from home. Maybe even less. How can we make it safe and easy for people not to walk to those places?

  • valar84

    The article on making driving unappealing is a disaster in terms of framing the issue. It gives ammunition to people arguing that urbanists want to use government to force people out of their cars.

    Instead, the issue should be framed by pointing out that, actually, it is present government policies and investments which essentially makes driving so appealing and forces people INTO their cars. Urban freeways cost billions and are provided for free to car drivers, allowing them to travel at speeds other forms of transport cannot hope to match. Free parking exists only because governments mandate business and office owners to build excessive amounts of it and offer it for free.

    Policies to make driving more expensive aren’t about punishing car drivers… they are about making them pay their own way. We shouldn’t frame the issue as providing disincentives to driving, but as ceasing to provide so many incentives to driving.

  • There is no way Jeff is a size 37 for his pants.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

How Transit Pays for the Automobile’s Sins

|
Tony Dutzik is a senior policy analyst with the Frontier Group. An op-ed in Friday’s Washington Post by three professors of urban planning rained on the parade of transit advocates celebrating a new 57-year high in transit ridership. Ridership, the authors wrote, has actually fallen on a per-capita basis since 2008 (as has driving, by the way), as well as outside […]

Commuting Tips for the Incrementalist: Small Changes, Big Savings

|
Rob Perks couldn’t understand why his friend, Megan, drove to work every day instead of taking public transportation. She said driving was cheaper and more convenient, but Perks had almost an identical commute and he was pretty confident he was saving a lot by taking transit. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation of all Megan’s driving costs […]

Without Transit, American Cities Would Take Up 37 Percent More Space

|
Even if you never set foot on a bus or a train, chances are transit is saving you time and money. The most obvious reason is that transit keeps cars off the road, but the full explanation is both less intuitive and more profound: Transit shrinks distances between destinations, putting everything within closer reach. A new study published by the Transportation Research Board quantifies […]

Rasmussen: Americans Want More Federal Support for Transit

|
Rasmussen Reports, the polling firm that got the 2012 election completely wrong, asked 1,000 Americans last week how they feel about public transportation [PDF]. The takeaway they reported was this: “74% Rarely or Never Use Mass Transit.” On the flip side, 6 percent said they used transit every day or nearly every day, and another […]

Six Lies the GOP Is Telling About the House Transportation Bill

|
The transportation-plus-drilling bill that John Boehner and company are trying to ram through the House is an attack on transit riders, pedestrians, cyclists, city dwellers, and every American who can’t afford to drive everywhere. Under this bill, all the dedicated federal funding streams for transit, biking, and walking would disappear, leading to widespread service cuts […]

Rich People Love Sidewalks, And Other Livability Lessons From USDOT

|
When asking people what transportation options are important in their communities, why do poll-takers never ask them to choose between different options? Here comes another survey in which people say they want everything and are never asked to make the tradeoffs that come in the real world. USDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics asked 1,000 households […]