Public transportation

Fire, Earth, and Water Visit Apocalyptic Delays on Nation's Rail Lines

Are the endtimes nigh for public transit?



Man's hubris can be the catalyst for a little divine humbling, from King Nebuchadnezzar and the builders of the Tower of Babel to today's overly ambitious urban transit agencies.

On Monday a rain storm caused a flood of biblical proportions in New York City's subway system, shutting down service at two stations for over an hour and causing service changes and delays on six rail lines.

Doused and disaffected riders took to Twitter to express their anger at the delays in general and at Gov. Andrew Cuomo in particular. Cuomon's Subway Action plan was supposed to whip the long-troubled transit system into shape.

A similar situation was playing out on the West Coast, where heavy rains caused a mudslide onto some tracks just north of Seattle. This earthen disaster has shut down commuter rail transit between Seattle and the nearby community of Everett for 48 hours while the track is being cleared. This is not the first time this has happened recently.

Now it appears these apocalyptic signs are surfacing in belly of the beast: Washington, D.C.

This morning, smoke and a small fire at the Farragut North rail station caused service disruptions and delays, thanks to what the D.C.-area transit agency WMATA reports as "electrical current taking a wayward path, resulting in sparks/arcing from the trackbed."

Taken individually, these earth-, water-, and fire-caused delays would be just another routine inconvenience. Taking them together, let's declare them a sign that the transit endtimes are nigh.

Biblical portents aside, Randal O'Toole of the Cato Institute recently predicted a coming "transit apocalypse," to be ushered in by what he called the "four horsemen" of lower energy prices, growing maintenance backlogs, unfunded pension liabilities, and the rise of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Combined with the potential of driverless cars, O'Toole said, these forces could mean that "outside of a few very dense areas, such as New York City, transit will be extinct by the year 2030."

Whether the fall of transit will happen that fast is open to debate. But it is undeniable that the problems that O'Toole identifies, and which are in part responsible for this week's disruptions, will continue to see commuters flee mass transit systems for the more nimble and customizable services offered by ride-sharing services and, in time, by driverless cars.

New York's subway system has seen the number of trips taken on it fall by more than 30 million since 2015, even as the city added both jobs and people. D.C.'s Metro has seen an even more pronounced decline, with a 12 percent drop in trips taken from 2016 to 2017.

Seattle's transit system is an exception, with the booming city seeing a 4.7 million increase in trips taken on public transit. Nevertheless, its light rail lines are still undershooting their ridership predictions, and the city is still adding cars as fast as it is adding people.

Nationwide, ridership is down most everywhere.

Part of the reason for this marked decline in ridership in places like New York and D.C. is deteriorating service. New York's subways have seen on-time arrivals plummet to below 40 percent on some lines, and overcrowded cars are quickly becoming the norm.

D.C. residents, meanwhile, have had to suffer collisions, derailments, fires, constantly inoperable escalators, and reduced service to allow for long-deferred maintenance to take place.

The failures of public transit have led commuters to opt for ride-sharing services in droves. According to an October 2017 study by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, some 30 percent of adults in urban areas report using ride-hailing services, causing a 6 percent reduction in public transit use.

Ride-sharing offers a comfortable and customizable service that takes you directly to your destination at a time of your choosing. Mass transit, conversely, often only takes you from near point A to near point B. The inconvenience is compounded by any maintenance problems, since problems on one segment of track will affect service across the entire system.

That is certainly the case in D.C. today, where the fire at the centrally located Farragut North station—reportedly caused by a "maintenance issue"—has caused delays all up and down heavily trafficked line, and thus an exodus of riders.

In situations like this, ride-sharing is a nimble solution for stranded commuters. The coffee shop where I wrote this article after D.C.'s transit delays postponed my morning commute was filled with other Red Line refugees, a good portion of whom were calling Uber and Lyft cars to try to make it to work on time.

The maintenance and natural disasters that have wreaked havoc on the nation's mass transit systems this week aren't really divinely inspired. But they're still a reminder of both the coming, totally man-made transit apocalypse, and of what will replace it.

NEXT: Supreme Court Punts on Data Privacy Case, Thanks to the Terrible CLOUD Act

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  1. All you need are wind and love and you can destroy the evil orb closing in on Earth.

    1. Unfortunately for New York, Chris Tucker was in LA at the time.

      1. Multipass!

  2. I don’t think their music is *that* bad.

    1. If they had just let Earth Wind and Fire play September in the train stations:

      Ba de ya, say that you remember
      Ba de ya, dancing in September
      Ba de ya, never was a cloudy day
      Ba duda, ba duda, ba duda, badu
      Ba duda, badu, ba duda, badu

      But no – they gotta pretend that the elements respond to science rather than disco dancing.

      1. That’s the way. Of the world.

  3. Man’s hubris can be the catalyst for a little divine humbling

    What nonsense. Scientists (or 97% of them at any rate) are now capable of understanding Earth’s complex climate to such a degree of certainty that we are even now engaged in a massive project to control the weather. Floods and mudslides and droughts and wildfires, even hurricanes and tornados I assume, are already on the verge of being a thing of the past.

  4. Can we call it the Trainpocalypse? I vote for calling it the Trainpocalypse.

    1. Seconded.

    2. Seconded.

    3. I like “Transapocalypse.”

  5. This is obviously a Climate Event caused by a Denier being elected to the White House.

  6. New York’s subway system has seen the number of trips taken on it fall by more than 30 million since 2015

    Or 1.1%. Oh noes!

    Cuomon’s Subway Action plan was supposed to whip the long-troubled transit system into shape.

    It hasn’t even started yet. And it’s not promising whatever miracles you seem to think it is given the decades of deferred maintenance that you rightly alluded to. And yes, that is entirely the fault of the government and especially the money-pit pubsec unions.

    As for Uber, it can go fuck itself and take its disgusting lying about its security breaches with it.

    1. Just fuck the New York Public Transit system already.

      1. Shut up, Tulpa!

        1. Oh don’t be salty crybaby, you picked yoyr stupid pseudoscientific position on Roundup, now own it!

    2. As for Uber, it can go fuck itself and take its disgusting lying about its security breaches with it.

      What’s this about?

      1. The breach is expected; I mean, your data isn’t safe anywhere as far as I’m concerned. However, it sounds like they tried to cover it up.

      2. Uber did a pretty bad thing, where they had a security breach. That’s bad, and would probably give pause. Then they hired hackers to try to hide that a security breach had taken place. So they doubled down instead of alerting their users.

        It’s pretty bad.

        1. One of the stories I read says they paid the actual hackers who caused the break a ransom to get the data “back”.

          1. That’s possible. I know some companies actually consider this option in a ransomware attack, depending on the how extensive the damage was.

    3. Or 1.1%. Oh noes!

      If it were a company it would be a really bad sign to lose 1.1% of your customers over three years. Especially considering the captive audience and NYC having grown 1.2% since 2015. If only it were a company…

      1. Enh, there are lots of factors that aren’t even being considered here. One, I have read that the population is shrinking in recent year(s), not growing. Two, if there was an increase, maybe all of it went to the large areas of the city that have no subway service. Three, subway ridership goes up and down based on the economy and other “livability” factors like crime – riderhip is currently at levels not seen since the 1950’s despite a recent drop (and with fewer miles of track).

        1. According to various estimates I found, the population of Manhattan has increased 1.1%. It’s frustrating to look for this information so that’s as far as I’m going. Even if the newcomers don’t use transit it wouldn’t result in a real decrease. It could be some kind of business cycle for them but that’s still a bad sign. It means that if current trends continue they’ll continue losing customers.

  7. The coffee shop where I wrote this article

    Okay Christian. You’re cool.

    1. That’s vintage some Gen X behavior right there.

      1. English, motherfucker, do you speak it?!!

        1. Speak it, do you?

    2. He was drinking decaf, though.

      1. Of course he was. He’s pretty cool, but he’s no Mike Riggs.

        1. Riggs drinks pure caffeine extract, flavored with testosterone.

    3. Of course he is. Have you seen that hat?!

  8. Underfunded.

    *drops microphone*

    1. Don’t worry. Seattle Transit will be funded whether they want it or not.

      1. Hey, did you see this, today? Seattle times hired an “expert” to tell them why housing prices were rising. 3000 words later, the conclusion: More demand than supply.

        1. I have to turn off the radio sometimes when I heard the local politicos and analysts talk about certain issues. Housing is one of them. The points they make are so insipid that I just need to take a break.

          This is one. And we clearly see Seattle combining this with the homelessness in the city to create a way for the city to give out huge payments to connected individuals. Refusing many people the ability to build or do things, and just overall fuck stuff.

          Did you see the discussion about how Seattle is the Most unfair to the poor in the state shit?

          Which is basically meaning there is going to be a push for an income tax.

          1. Where I live they raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The council was presented with a very well researched study showing that doing so will cost 42,000 people their jobs. The council did so anyway because SCIENCE!!

            One of the great lies the Right tells is the idea that state and local governments are in any way more competent or less corrupt than the feds. In most ways, they are worse than the feds. Their only virtue is that it is easier to get away from them.

          2. Yep. Seattle already passed an income tax, and exactly as I predicted, no one proposed or even DISCUSSED lowering all the other taxes, fees and levies that they complain make taxes “unfair”.

            We don’t have to speculate that they won’t eliminate those taxes, we have red letter proof.

            1. But don’t worry Paul, I am assured by a hundred swinging dick conservatives and others on the right that if the feds ever adopted a VAT, they would totally eliminate income taxes, because the Feds would do the right thing I guess.

          3. I have to turn off the radio sometimes when I heard the local politicos and analysts talk about certain issues.

            OT: IL is moving towards adopting a mandatory LGBT friendly history curriculum. Setting aside the gay manner in which the curriculum slobbered on Obama’s genitals, I gritted my teeth as it was discussed that people like Sally Ride and some local, historical community organizer who wasn’t Obama should be included in a kid-friendly manner and that it be usefully educational and not salacious. I almost snapped the knob off my radio when, in the next sentence, one of the advocates blurted out that Abe Lincoln’s sexual ambiguity should be included as well.

            The City/State is underwater in pension obligations to teachers, the schools are some of the most segregated and most mediocre in the nation (lower when it comes to testing and math and science), and these people are advocating expanding the teaching of speculative historical fiction as though knowing that Abe Lincoln spoke affectionately of men is going to win you some sort of prize or land you some sort of job.

            John mentioned that a gay rights attorney who immolated himself in advocacy of environmentalism was in a cult. I think it’s plain to see that it’s either two cults or one larger, more encompassing cult.

            1. The whole idea of “Gay and Lesbian” history is totally demeaning and dehumanizing to gays. The fact that Sally Ride was a lesbian has nothing to do with her accomplishments as an astronaut. If it turned out Buzz Aldrin was into BDSM with his wife, would his landing on the moon now be “BDSM History”? Saying she must be taught as gay and lesbian history is saying that being gay defined who she was like it made her a different species or something.

              1. If it turned out Buzz Aldrin was into BDSM with his wife, would his landing on the moon now be “BDSM History”?

                It better be.

              2. I like how Morgan Freeman characterized “Black History Month”

                “I think it’s ridiculous, black history is American History.”

              3. The whole “I need somebody to look up to who shares my [insert random characteristic here]” thing is so nauseating. I get it that some people need that as a crutch but all that fostering that stuff on the general population is doing is making people more receptive to collectivist BS.

                1. The whole “I need somebody to look up to who shares my [insert random characteristic here]” thing is so nauseating. I get it that some people need that as a crutch but all that fostering that stuff on the general population is doing is making people more receptive to collectivist BS.


              4. The fact that Sally Ride was a lesbian has nothing to do with her accomplishments as an astronaut.

                I knew she was married and did not know she was gay. Reading her ‘coming out’ story, it sounds very much like her discovery of homosexuality was a turning point in her life but it also distinctly sounded like she would hate to go down into history as ‘first lesbian astronaut’.

                The part that rather obviously gets me is that it’s blatantly selective revisionism. They don’t even want to wear the objective historical mask. Homosexuality, as a topic, will exist as a social movement when it suits the author(s) and as a quirky individualist, social habit when it doesn’t. We aren’t going to get textbooks connoting that Greek, Roman, and Persian Emporers pretty generally molested minors as a matter of course and kept castrated boys as servants until the Germans and Christianity largely/effectively ended the practices. There’s not going to be the similar equivocation where Christianity existed but wasn’t an unconditional good because of The Crusades. Where the Puritans fled England but burned witches. No outings of Ernst R?hm are going to be penned in. It’s going to be a straight up ‘Harvey Milking’ of history.

            2. From the evidence I’ve seen of Lincoln’s homosexuality it’s basically people confirming ideas they would normally decry as toxic masculinity. That is, that straight men can’t show some affection towards other men.

              1. That is exactly what it is BUCS.

              2. I heard he “shared a bed” with another man during his poor country lawyuh days. Not sure one can even make anything of that.

                But more to the point, I don’t care.

              3. To convincingly argue that Lincoln was, in any part, gay. Requires you to signficantly diminish Mary Todd. Setting aside that it is known he was romantically involved with *at least* two women, likely three, in his life; that, despite losing several sons with Mary Todd he gives every indication of maintaining their relationship. That is to say, if you preferred men, I think the death of your 4-yr.-old son would give you pause or plenty of room for an out rather than having two more sons with the same woman.

                The notion that Lincoln was gay may as well be firmly supported by the fact that he enjoyed the theater.

  9. These systems are falling apart for the same reason government buildings fall apart everywhere; no one ever got re-elected for doing maintenance work. They get re-elected for building things not maintaining them. As anyone who has ever owned a house should know, the cost of building the house is only the beginning. The real expense is maintaining it. That is what happens with these mass transit systems. They are sold to the public as some kind of a fixed cost. “Hey for just three billion dollars we can have a choo choo like the other cities”. No, you can have a choo choo for a few years at that price. Then you are going to have to maintain it. The public never gets told about that. And the money to do so is rarely ever allocated.

    Worse than that, these systems are poorly run and often amount to jobs programs similar to the public schools. So the money that is available for maintenance is nearly always used for pensions and employee pay. Washington DC, for example, did virtually no maintenance on its metro for the first 30 years of its existence. Then in the late 00s, the system began to fall apart such that it was not just unreliable it was dangerous. So, the public got stuck with a huge bill for deferred maintenance that at the end left the city with a worn out and old metro system that at least had been maintained.

  10. D.C. residents, meanwhile, have had to suffer … constantly inoperable escalators

    So, stairs? D.C. residents have had to suffer staircases?

    1. Because of the topography of Washington, the DC metro has some of the longest escalators in the world. It has something 8 of the top ten longest escalators in the Western Hemisphere. So, stairs are contrary to what you might think, kind of a big fucking deal in some places.

      That said, one of the dumbest things they did when designing the metro was put escalators in where stairs would have worked better. They have escalators that go from one train level to another. They don’t save any time and actually make moving harder as people are funneled into a small space to get down what could have been wide staircases. And they are just another thing to maintain. Even still, there are some stations that you need escalators to get out of.

      1. So, stairs are contrary to what you might think, kind of a big fucking deal in some places.

        As someone who daily walks 6 flights of zigzag stairs daily to get to and from work, I’m still a ‘meh’. However, it sounds like the issue wasn’t exactly that they were (just) inoperable as much as they were hazardous.

        1. You have no idea how big these escalators are. Six flights of stairs are about 30 steps. These things are hundreds of steps long. I walk up the escalator out of the station I go to on the odd days I take the metro. One day I counted the number of steps I took and it was over 200. That was me walking while the escalator was moving. If the escalator was stopped it would be twice that I bet.

          So it is not a meh.

          1. You have no idea how big these escalators are. Six flights of stairs are about 30 steps. These things are hundreds of steps long.

            Sorry, six floors or stories, twelve flights it’s closer to 96-120 steps. My point is, the escalators can’t be more than about a 30-degree incline while a staircase can be more and the steps are roughly the same height. So, in their span they rise something like 90-100 ft.? I don’t know that I’ve been to the specific escalators, but I’ve been to DC and I’ve been on plenty of decent-sized escalators in two hemispheres. None have made me think, “My God, I could never walk this!” or “I’d hate to have to walk this everyday!”.

            I guess it could definitely be a pain if you get stuck behind a few obese geriatrics or if, because it was slowed, it was jam packed but still… IMO, the bigger issue is that they were actually hazardous. If I had to climb the stairs and got a shock every other landing or the handrails sliced my hand open, I’d be more upset or concerned about the hazards than the steps (unless the steps themselves were the hazard, e.g. shifting, of course). These sorts of hazards also demonstrate that replacing the escalators with stairs and elevators won’t address the “inconvenience”.

            1. Escalators tend to have a higher rise than stairs. Believe me, it becomes noticeable when you reach a certain age.

      2. For added DC fun, remember when the escalator motor and brake failed creating an express?

    2. When the escalators stopped in Seattle, it took a committee and $100,000 to determine if people could use them as stairs. Mitch Hedberg is spinning in his grave.

      1. What did they do during the study? Block off the broken escalators so no one could use them as stairs?

        1. since the top and bottom step of escalators never would meet code for fixed stairs they would have to closed off.

          since people no longer know how to walk sad but true

        2. Yes, they forced thousands of people onto a single elevator. Not all at once of course…

          1. But according to the city, that’s only because Seattle has too strong of an individualist streak to do what’s right.

      2. If people didn’t already use them as stairs, they wouldn’t break down so much.

        1. Check out the escalator pedant over here.

          1. Well every day I take one of those very long escalators of the type that John describes above. And every day there are hordes of fat-ass office workers clomping up and down them. And out of the three escalators, at least one is under repair about 75% of the time. And because I “reverse commute” from NY to NJ, the remaining escalator(s) are more likely to be catering to Jerz poo and moving in the direction I don’t want to go.

  11. Yeah, most of the time Uber or Lyft is cheaper than taking the metro if you have more than one person. It’s usually a wash if it’s two people and you get there much sooner with less hassle. With 3 people you’re saving money already.

    1. Most of the time, meaning, “not during rush hour when you are most likely to need it” and if you have more than one person “meaning you are likely not going to work or doing something you have to do.” Uber is great for people who live in large cities and go out clubbing or travel at odd times. For people who don’t live in cities or who need transportation to a job with regular hours, not so much. Yet, somehow reason keeps selling it as some kind of all purpose solution for every transportation need.

      1. Actually, a guy I know uses Uber pool to get to work every day and it’s about $2-3 a ride, which is usually cheaper than Metro, especially during rush hour and really especially during peak of the peak times when Metro charges the most.

        1. He must not have far to go. I find UBER to be significantly more expensive than even cabs in all but off hours. $2 to $3 will barely get farther than you can walk.

            1. No. I don’t use UBER very often. I have not had a bad experience. I just don’t see how people think it is some big improvement over cabs.

              1. It depends on your local cabs. The cabs in my city are ass.

              2. Long and short for me? It’s cheaper for what I use it for. I have a car, am not giving up my car, and use it for normal commuting. So Uber is for weird situations. Like when I go on a long trip I Uber to the airport to avoid paying for parking. Shit like that.

                And in those cases it’s usually about 50% or so of the cost of a taxi.

                1. That’s about the way I use the MARTA in Atlanta – mainly because parking at the MARTA station is free. Taking a car into the city means you have to consider the 15-20 bucks you have to pay to park the thing.

          1. I’ve never used Uber but I seriously doubt it’s less than a few multiples more than the roughly $5 I spend to cross NYC and enter NJ every day. And that’s not including tolls for bridges and/or tunnels.

  12. But it is undeniable that the problems that O’Toole identifies, and which are in part responsible for this week’s disruptions

    Look, I’m no fan of heavily subsidized public transit, but this statement is flat out wrong. All three incidents were clearly “acts of God”. Even the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad would have had transit issues under the circumstances described.

    There are so many good jumping off points for a rant about public transit issues. Three acts of God? Not so much.

    1. Come on MP, UBER will totally still be running during a hurricane or giant flood.

      1. Don’t forget the driverless cars that are due any moment now.

        1. Any day now. It is one thing to want a driverless car. I can see how someone might want one. But, what I can’t understand is how people like Bailey are so enthralled with the idea of no one owning their own cars anymore and all transportation being provided by centralized fleets of driverless cars. That has to be the dumbest idea I have ever heard. Yet, they are convinced that is the future. The arguments they make for it are just bizarre. “Your car is just sitting in the garage not being used most of the time. That is just wasted assets.” My clothes sit in the closet unused most days. Should everyone start wearing fleet owned clothes delivered by drone? It never dawns on them that people’s needs might vary such that no centralized fleet could ever meet them as well as the market does now. I find the whole thing deeply odd.

    2. electrical current taking a wayward path, resulting in sparks/arcing from the trackbed

      This sounds like maintenance issues. Electricity doesn’t just do that of its own volition.

      And it seems that NY “transit officials insisted the issue was a street-level problem that caused a ripple effect in the subway.” That also sounds like a maintenance problem.

      1. Seems like just a wee bit of a reach to blame every single mechanical issue conceivable on a lack of maintenance funding.

        Especially one as obscure as “electrical current taking a wayward path”.

        Sometimes, in life, shit happens.

      2. Electricity takes the path of least resistance, so while it’s usually predictable it becomes less so when, say, you add a lot of water around the 3rd rail.

    3. There are so many good jumping off points for a rant about public transit issues. Three acts of God? Not so much.

      This issue is a frequent punching bag for Reason and they’ll use any excuse to knock it around some more.

  13. Gerard Butler is going to star in the disaster movie based on these public transportation catastrophes.

    1. I don’t think they ever did a disaster movie about public transit. Did a ton of them about airplanes and ships and skyscrapers back in the day but never the subway.

      1. Can’t beat The Poseidon Adventure for cruise ship disaster movies. Great cast, including my boy Ernie Borgnine.

        Nor can you beat The Towering Inferno for skyscraper disaster movies. That flic had a heavyweight cast that included a certain Heisman Trophy Winner.

        1. Those movies were so big in the 1970s. Then along came Airplane. Airplane was so funny and such a great satire, it killed an entire genre of movies.

          1. Just checked my memory on the cast of The Towering Inferno –

            Paul Newman
            Steve McQueen
            Faye Dunaway
            William Holden
            Fred Astaire
            Richard Chamberlain
            Robert Wagner
            Robert Vaughn
            Dabney Coleman
            Gregory Sierra
            Mike “Bobby Brady” Lookinland
            and, of course,
            Orenthal James Simpson

            1. Another great 70s movie, The Big Bus. It is a comedy about a nuclear powered super bus.

              1. How’s it compare to Supertrain?

                1. It is funnier. The Big Bus is total over the top 70s camp.

            2. Wow, they don’t make ’em like that anymore.

  14. OT:

    LC1789 is really on his game today in the Gorsuch thread.

    I’m posting this here because it appears that the comments on the thread are about done and I because I feel like giving out props today.

    Speaking of giving out props, how about D Wade last night? He passed Larry Joe Bird on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring leaders. He is now 10th. Although I am rooting for the 76ers (#Trust the Process), I was afraid that the Heat would bounce back after that horrible performance on Saturday.

    1. I have hated DWade ever since he tore Rajan Rondo’s arm out of its socket during the 2012 playoffs. Dirty bastard.

      I don’t have a problem with the decision. The statute is poorly drafted and basically leaves who gets deported and who doesn’t to whatever mood the judge was in that day. Congress should just say you get deported for being convicted of any crime punishable by two years or whatever in prison. I understand the desire to deport violent people, but I fail to see how someone who is an identity thief or guilty of some other crime that doesn’t involve physical violence is necessarily any better.

      1. To be honest, I haven’t read the opinion, I was just impressed with LC citing the text and making some nuanced points.

        Yes, I agree with you on Wade’s dirty play on Rondo. If you recall, Rondo was probably the Celtics’ best player in that series and it took the game of Lebron’s life (game 6 at the Garden) for the Heat to win.

        1. I think it was a close decision. I can see how you could say Gorsuch is being way pedantic and reading vagueness way too broadly. The liberals are just being hacks. But Gorsuch actually means it.

    2. ok obvious sock for lc1789

      1. Libertymike is very much his own person.

        1. Everybody is a sock when Tulpa’s around.

          Socks are the only way he can get his jollies.

          1. There is literally nothing wrong with getting one’s jollies off into socks.

            1. You’ve just offered yourself to Tulpa.

      2. Let’s see if you are the real Tulpa.

        What did you say to me when I would refer to the 44th President as the tall Kenyan?

        1. I think the real Tulpa is dead.

          1. He’s mourning Romney’s loss.

            1. Gazing longingly at the restraining order with Romney’s signature he has framed on the wall.

  15. Of course, if we all had self driving cars than we’d all have an excuse for why we weren’t at work: The weather made everyone’s cars turn off an overpass.

  16. Mass transit has gone from being a system for moving people to being an honest signal of a local politician’s ability to bring home the bacon. The trend is more light rail that merely gentrifies neighborhoods and fewer buses.

  17. It all depends on the relative price of the driverless Uber and the price of transit; and then there is driverless transit, which will dispense with the expensive transit driver wages & pensions. What transit should do to keep up is use smaller vehicles, like a passenger van, and have routes that cover more streets, so that a typical customer might only have to walk 3 blocks instead of 10. But I still see medium haul transit being popular – e.g., buses that go from town center to a town center 15 miles away, complemented by driverless Uber rides for the first & last miles.

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