Imagining the Future of Transit

img_1911What would get you on transit and out of your car? Or if you’re already there, what would get you to give up your car? If you’re reading here, I can imagine you are likely already a mass transit user, or at least open to the idea. However, I know I’m far, far from the point of giving up my car, and not just because I have small children.

Driving is also a factor of where we live. I am able to easily take rail to work, and do. Going to visit my folks, on the other hand, requires quite a trek by car, one I don’t think is even served by bus.

In Tokyo, where my in-laws are, I can not only run around the city on an intracate web of trains and subways, I’m able to go sightseeing and hiking right off the rail lines. There, the train is usually the fastest way from one point to another, and it’s actually cheaper to fly than ride to some desinations because of that. Around train stations, there often far more bike parking stations than auto garages.

In the San Francisco, Bay Area, where I live, transit is generally patchy and often unreliable due to lack of dedicated routes. BART, the key commuter rail system, is actually considering a congestion surcharge to reduce peak ridership, if you can believe that. We have a long way to go.

So tell me what you think about transit, from rail to bus to taxi. What are the positives and the pitfalls? And what is the future?

3 thoughts on “Imagining the Future of Transit

  1. Thanks for this post, Adriel… I live in Seattle, where transit seems never to have been updated since the 1970’s. In fact, my husband (who lived here in the late 1970’s) says it’s worse than it was then. The bus system is sparse in many areas… some are unreliable. To get from one neighborhood to another by bus can take one hour where it could take 15 minutes by car (or even by bike). But we’ve survived here for 6 months without owning a car. We just moved here from NYC (where transit it excellent).

  2. @ariherzog That’s a very key question, and one I think about in terms of where my parents live. I think programs like City CarShare, where you have a membership and rent cars by the hour from local transit centers, have some promise. We’ve got to think about how expensive ownership driving really is. You’ve also got to have significant investment for light rail anywhere the population base will support it. And for sparsely populated areas, how about fully electric cars?

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