Transit is NOT Cost-Effective
We always thought so, didn’t we? All those passenger and light rail trains that speed by without a full passenger complement couldn’t possibly be making a profit or even breaking even. But the planners and the government continued to try to sell us on the merits of Transit. Now we find a 2010 report by the Heritage Foundation, published on Feb 7, 2011, that refutes the claims that transit offers substantial economic benefits and is more energy efficient that travel by private car. The Heritage Foundation examined the data offered by the Dept of Transportation and found it lacking.
Urban Transportation Policy Requires Factual Foundations
By Wendell Cox
Abstract: The 2010 Heritage Foundation report “Washington’s War on Cars and the Suburbs” disputed Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s claims that public transit produces substantial economic benefits, consumes only one-fifth the energy of cars, and saves billions in other costs. The author of the 2004 American Public Transportation Association report, Todd Litman, has taken issue with “Washington’s War.” The following paper is a response to Litman’s recent claims—and finds that new rail transit systems have not attracted drivers from their cars for commutes; transit funding increases are far out of proportion to any increase in ridership; transit attracts few drivers because of its limited competitiveness with the car; and the purported cost benefits have been exaggerated. Wendell Cox explains how outdated numbers and ambiguous definitions form the basis of today’s urban transportation policy.
In 2009, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood touted the purported benefits of urban rail systems (subways, light rail, and commuter rail) on his Department of Transportation blog, contending that public transit produces substantial economic benefits, is far more energy efficient than cars, and saves billions in congestion and accident costs. All of Secretary LaHood’s assertions are derived from a 2004 Canadian study prepared for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), America’s principal transit-lobbying organization.
The June 2010 Heritage Foundation report “Washington’s War on Cars and the Suburbs” critiqued the Secretary’s claims. The author of the APTA study, Todd Litman of the Victoria Transportation Policy Institute, responded to the Heritage report. None of Litman’s comments undermines the conclusion of “Washington’s War” that “many of the claims and assertions that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood makes on behalf of the transit industry are inconsistent with the data.”
Filed under: All Aboard Florida
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