Sunday, August 20, 2006

Get on the Bus

Today's Providence Sunday Journal had a fairly interesting and in-depth article about regional transportation. Specifically, the way that the transit needs of businesses and employees are changing as more companies move away from dense urban areas and into less developed suburban and rural communities. A lot of articles about transit tend to take the position that the solution to every problem is for everyone to turn in their cars and move back into city centers. Thankfully, this article refrains from that dogma and takes a real look into the current state of suburban life and business and examines how RIPTA is trying to meet the needs of a more decentralized population. If public transit is ever going to become useful for people who have other options, it's going to have to start serving their needs better. I think that's going to mean more reliance on flexibility and technology. Unfortunately, since public transit is generally more concerned with political grandstanding and urban planning mythology than actually serving the transit needs of the public, I have my doubts about whether or not this transformation can occur. The article also doesn't fall back on the notion that if gas prices continue to rise, people will decide to turn in their cars and depopulate suburbia. The end of relatively cheap gas is going to bring changes, of course, but I'm far from convinced that it's going to lead to a mass extinction of suburban car culture.

2 comments:

MDS said...

"A lot of articles about transit tend to take the position that the solution to every problem is for everyone to turn in their cars and move back into city centers. Thankfully, this article refrains from that dogma"

Why do you say "Thankfully"? People who drive cars impose costs on those who don't. What's wrong with acknowledging that and seeking fair solutions to it?

dhodge said...

There is nothing wrong with taking a look at the real costs of all transit options. A lot of reporting on the matter, in my opinion, is predicated on the idea that widespread adoption of public transit is the only option worth considering. This article is largely neutral on the issue of where people should live and how they should get from place to place and looks at how public transit is adapting to their lifestyles.