Why People Vote for Expanded Public Transport but Don’t Actually Use It

By Laura Bliss : psmag – excerpt

New research in Los Angeles shows that people support expanded transit options based on party affiliation and frustration with congestion—but not to ride it themselves.

In November of 2016, Los Angeles County made history. A whopping 72 percent of voters approved Measure M, a sales tax measure set to generate $120 billion over 40 years to expand rail, rapid bus, and bike networks. With it, the L.A. Metropolitan Transportation Authority promised to “ease traffic congestion” and “transform transportation” across the region.

But that promise is likely to remain unmet, judging by history. Between 1980 and 2016, L.A. passed three major transit sales tax measures and built 110 miles of rail. Yet ridership on L.A.’s transit system has been slipping for years, while the number of miles traveled in private cars is rising. Other American cities that have passed major transit measures are facing the same conundrum.

Which is? Voters might love transit, but that doesn’t mean they plan to ride it. And transit agencies that appeal to voters with pledges to solve traffic woes might be digging themselves into a hole.

Those basic disconnects at the heart of a landmark sales tax measure are the subject of new research by Michael Manville, an urban planning professor at the University of California–Los Angeles’ Luskin School of Public Affairs. His research is full of wisdom and warnings for other cities keen to replicate L.A.’s superficial success… (more)

If you build it will they take it? No unless they are desperate these days. Riders who can are choosing other methods to get around, claiming the public options are unreliable, dirty, dangerous and unaccessible for those who need it most. In order to increase capacity and “cut costs” transit officials are removing bus stops and bus seats, against the will of the public who is supposed to take them. The riders and drivers are ignored so they are both leaving in large numbers.

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