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Bloomberg’s falling out with transit adds another disturbing wrinkle: Maybe even a system as extensive as New York’s couldn’t transform Villaraigosa into a transit-riding mayor. In Metro New York, 25 percent of commuters rely on transit, much more than LA’s 5 percent, but not in step with the popular view that “everyone” takes transit in New York.
Back when workers traveled in beelines from homes in the suburbs to offices in a city center, it was relatively easy to design successful transit systems. Today, old fixed-route systems don’t serve most travelers. Yet officials still prefer to fund snazzy rail lines over buses because for them transit’s primary use isn’t transportation but a backdrop for photo ops: Cut the ribbon, huddle around the others who fought for funding, smile, and then jump back into your SUV
Imagine how much transit might improve if public officials actually had to ride the systems they tout.
Ted Balaker is a policy analyst at Reason Foundation and author of The Road More Traveled: Why the Congestion Crisis Matters More Than You Think and What We Can Do About It (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006). This column originally appeared in the Los Angeles Daily News.