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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Transit Benefits Non-Riders

Don't believe me? Fine. Check it out here.

How Transit Benefits People Who Do Not Ride It: A Conservative Inquiry
By Paul M. Weyrich and William S. Lind

I'm going to reproduce the introduction here, because I'm as pleased as punch by it. It's by "The Honorable Robert F. Bennett United States Senator, State of Utah".

Do you use public transportation?  Of course you do.  Even if you live out in thecountry, you use public transportation when you drive to the city. 
“No, I don’t,” you reply.  “I drive all the way into the city.  I don’t change from my carto a train or bus.” 
That may be true, but you still use transit to help you get around.  How?  If it weren’t for public transportation, there would be thousands more cars on the road.  You would spend hours more driving in or out of the city, because congestion would be far worsethan it already is.  So even if you don’t ride public transit, you still use it, and it is still working for you

I was pleased and honored to be asked to write the foreword to  this interesting and innovative study by Paul Weyrich and Bill  Lind.  Like them, I am a pro-transitconservative.  I see public transportation as part of the infrastructure, no different from water lines and highways and services such  as the police and the fire department.  If infrastructure is inadequate, everybody suffers.
Here, Paul and Bill explain exactly how transit benefits people  who do not ride it. Reducing traffic congestion for people who  drive is just one way.  As you will read here, there are many more. 
Why is it important that people who do not ride transit understand that it benefits them? Because too often, when a transit measure is on the ballot, they vote against it.  They think, “Why should I vote for this?  It won’t do me any good.” They are wrong.  When they vote no, they are hurting themselves.  That transit issue onthe ballot will often benefit them, in the ways this study describes. 
Democracy depends on informed voters,  and this study will help voters understand public transportation in a new way.  I hope it is widely read and discussed.  I certainly intend to help distribute it in my state, and I will urge my colleagues in the Senate to dothe same.  I congratulate the Free Congress Foundation on once again producing thekind of cutting-edge work for which it is so well known. 
According the WFRC Travel Demand Model, the TRAX carries about a free-way lane's worth of traffic. Many bikers proudly wear a 'One Less Car' tag. Perhaps a train could wear a "1780 Less Cars" tag.