A Sobering Look at the Future of Public Transit

Brian Taylor, professor of urban planning and public policy, spoke to KALW’s “Crosscurrents” about the decline of public transportation in metropolitan areas around the country. “What is the future of these central cities that were the economic dynamos of the country?” Taylor asked, noting that planners and policymakers are turning their attention to how public transit can recover in a post-pandemic world. Ridership began dipping well before the arrival of COVID-19, he said, despite increased investment, service improvements and policies designed to discourage solo driving. Research by the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA Luskin determined that one key factor was that more Californians had access to cars. “Increased auto access in two forms was at the root of eroding transit ridership,” Taylor said. The number of cars per household increased at all income levels, and the rise of services such as Uber and Lyft offered people the chance to buy car trips one at a time.


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