To the editor: In almost every article regarding mass transit benefits, there is the notion that transit options would reduce traffic congestion. Even Measure M was touted as a means for reducing traffic. The implication is that you should take mass transit so the other guy can have a shorter commute. Make it harder to park," Opinion, Dec. 15) Mass transit should be designed and marketed as a superior alternative to driving your car. Riding it should afford convenience, comfort and a pleasant experience, but the reality is far from that.
Back in ye olden times, beckoning a ride with a phone tap was for the 1-ish percent. Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says he launched his world-shaking app back in 2009 so he could look über-rich and powerful. "We just wanted to push a button and get a ride, and we wanted to get a classy ride," he later told Business Insider. "We wanted to be baller in San Francisco." Now, the sort of on-demand transit Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing companies have made so popular might finally make it to the masses--maybe even to those without smartphones or bank accounts.
To the editor: Metro's proposal of a tax on Uber and Lyft rides would be a good idea if our transit infrastructure were fully built out. I use public transit a lot, but there are times when Uber or Lyft is the better option. For example, I live in Van Nuys, but most of my doctors are affiliated with a hospital in Santa Monica. Using transit, the best one-way travel time between my residence and that facility is just short of an hour and a half. In comparison, the worst travel time I have ever experienced with Uber was 40 minutes.
The environmental case for taking public transportation is pretty solid, especially in big cities where options are abundant and traffic unbearable. More than three-quarters of Americans drive by themselves to work every day by themselves, but taking a bus or a train instead might save about a third of your household's daily carbon emissions. If you're all-in on the environment, and you live somewhere with frequent, quality public transit, your commute should be a no-brainer. But another factor is keeping many women away from from sharing a ride to work. According to a peer-reviewed paper presented at the annual Transportation Research Board Meeting last week, women who live nearby transit may be skipping it because they feel unsafe, even during the daily commute.
This story was originally published by CityLab and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. When a new rail or bus line gets built in the United States, its mere opening is often cause for celebration among transit advocates. That's understandable, given the funding gaps and political opposition that often stymie projects. But not all trains are bound for glory, and it's often not hard to see why. In the new book, Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit (Island Press, coving $40), Christof Spieler, a Houston-based transit planner, advocate, and former METRO board member, takes stock of the state of American transit with a tough-love approach.