Posting in Cities
Could improving local public transportation help communities struggling with economic recovery?
As the U.S.' unemployment numbers stagnate around 9 percent, policymakers from the president downwards are struggling to find ways to get people back to work.
Those promoting public policy might consider improving public transportation as a way to strengthen local economies. The Obama administration has made recent investments in high-speed rail and other national-level infrastructure initiatives.
But the solution could be more localized. If a recent study by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program is any indication, cities with more effective public transportation programs may be better able to recover from economic slumps than those with poor public transit options.
According to the study's writers, around 700,000 homes in the 100 largest metropolitan areas lack access to personal vehicles or public transportation. This means that people without cars who live out of walking or biking range of a potential job are likely to be excluded from a work opportunity in an inaccessible part of town. In cities with better public transit, people who do not have a personal vehicle and are looking for work have a much wider range of jobs open to them.
The fact that public transportation can be in itself a barrier to access to employment and education has led groups like the Leadership Conference Education Fund to see transportation as a civil rights issue.
Poor public transit creates economic problems beyond job availability: it also reduces property values, which can create further problems for a community struggling economically.
It's no surprise that the Obama administration has recently poured money into national infrastructure projects. But local solutions might go a long way towards facilitating economic recovery for struggling communities. Not only would these investments generate construction and manufacturing jobs, and increase property values, but people without a car might have access to jobs that were previously out of reach, at least geographically speaking.
Photo: Flickr/Scot Campbell
Sep 5, 2011
The reasons in this article are about as bad as most of Obama's ideas. you want a few easy ways to help the economy recover 1) severely tax any overseas corporate idiocy (ie, those kuala lampur, india, china, etc call-centers. Hire american. All that offshore crap does is funnel lots of american money (good after bad) out of the U.S. 2) Pay politicians what they're worth. They don't work a full year, don't pay them a full year. They work 2-3 months, and the rest is raising money for their next big election. 3) Fix taxation. flat tax across all brackets with none of these idiotic loopholes for the rich and corporations. I can go on with quite a few more that are far less-PC and that are far more controversial. The only intelligent one I've seen from Obama so far is the corp income tax 'breaks' for hiring veterans from this and past 'wars'. (Yes, the quotes, because some of the past recent things have been patently idiotic)
Can a prospective employee afford to live in the area where the job is offered at the sage offered? If not, then reasonable access could mitigate the situation. If one can't afford a car needed to get to work, then there might as well be no job to fill. Presumably, genuinely needed employees will be offered enough to live close to the area. Supply and demand still work. North Dakota is hiring if you have a place to live like an RV.
According to the US census bureau (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html ), there were about 112,000,000 households in the US as of 2009. I don't know how many of these are in the top 100 metro areas, but it's got to be at least 70,000,000. So we're talking about 1% or less of all households affected by this public transportation "problem". While it matters to the persons affected, in the overall scheme of things it's just not that big a deal. It's just a lot of hype.
When you start to see the identical narrative (usually based upon dubious correlations) pop up in different places at about the same time, you have to suspect that they've been planted in anticipation of another policy push. Those promoting public policy might consider improving public transportation as a way to strengthen local economies. The Obama administration has made recent investments in high-speed rail and other national-level infrastructure initiatives. Might they? Isn't this recycled rhetoric from the last couple go-rounds? If we lived in a country where "stimulus" had not become synonymous with being nothing more than a pork barrel orgy of crony capitalism, America would probably be able to be sold on this. But the Progressives blew it. Over a trillion has been wasted, and there's little to show for it. Nobody believes or trusts you any more. They don't want to keep doing the same insane thing over and over, only waking up to worse hangovers each time. Oh, and we've beaten HSR to death here, and the Chinese boondoggle should have but the final nail in the "If the Chinese can do it, we should" narrative.
There is a lot more reasons than lack of public transportation why people move away from public transportation. The main reason many of these people don???t have public transportation is the fact that ridership on some of these lines were so low that uneconomical to continue service. Another problem is the cost of living where public transportation was provided became too expensive for the poor. We do live in a complex world and look for simple solutions with the one-size fit all attitude with no variations. The solution is not as simple as adding more bus routes or rail lines. But we must be willing to solve the problems, which does cost money and will not please everyone.
The "lack of access" has nothing to do with real unemployment being over 15%. There are no statistics to prove that the numbers of people "lacking access" has increased in proportion to unemployment or in any way caused the increase in unemployment. The people behind these claims are just looking for another excuse for STIMULUS III.
It is all about identifying victims for bureaucrats and lawyers. Nothing happens because of people own actions. There is ALWAYS a victim. It is ALWAYS someone else???s fault. The government ALWAYS has to spend money to fix it.
The latest talk is of upgrading our infrastructure more. More STIMULUS. Specificly rebuilding schools and train stations were on one list I heard.
...and nobody was able or willing to answer my question: Why don't we study why people choose to live in places where their transportation options are so poor, and then try to make the places where transportation is supposedly good more desirable places to live? My guess is that that question doesn't get asked because the solutions to those problems don't have a constituency to commission studies supporting solutions they're interested in providing.
I absolutely agree. In the Denver area they keep building (and oh..lookie we're only halfway through the project and we're already 100% over budget) and there is still no ridership. So..spend a bunch more taxpayer's money for something that's subsidized and no one uses. Then there's the mess Bart in the Bay Area and the system in Portland...and they want to build more? Like mankind-caused global climate change, the mass transit thing is a religion - it can't be based on logic.
Others that come to mind: Better schools Less crime Quieter environment Lower taxes Less cumbersome/bureaucratic government