Why Federal Transit Hasn’t Lived Up to Its Promises


Next City, the nonprofit organization that produced this recent Super Bowl commercial parody, and other transit advocates claim that trains, buses, and even trolleys provide practical ways for people to travel between home and work, and places like church and the store. They say transit is affordable and helps the environment by eliminating the need for cars. The facts show otherwise.

As Heritage Foundation visiting fellow Wendell Cox reports, the federal transit program has failed to deliver on its promised objectives, despite having received generous federal gas tax subsidies for the past three decades. Namely, it has been unable to:
•Relieve traffic congestion. Traffic congestion has worsened in all major metropolitan areas, shown by a 125 percent increase in peak period travel times. Transit has not convinced Americans to abandon their cars. Since 1970, 58 million more people have chosen to get to work by car each day, while the number of transit commuters has increased by only 250,000. Transit has actually suffered a travel market share loss in urban areas.
•Provide mobility to jobs for low-income citizens. Low-income workers in metropolitan areas—those earning less than $15,000 per year—use cars at nearly the same rate as their more affluent yet equally rational neighbors. Transit does not give them a practical transportation alternative.



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