A transit bus on an empty street. There are no people in the image and the city looks abandoned. In the style of Japanese cyberpunk animation such as Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell

[🎞Video] The Real Reason US Public Transit Is Such A Mess – Part 1

Some takeaways and points of thought after watching the video:

  • The main cause of our problems here is HOW the Interstate Highway System was built. Most major cities had their own expressways that were managed by their local or state authorities. The Interstates should have connected these cities from the outskirts and avoided cutting through them. Maybe some ring roads could have been useful, but they also create more traffic and sprawl.
  • Job sprawl is even worse than housing sprawl, and as the video shows, having suburban office parks in random places with cheap land (and cheaper workers) ruined many transit agencies whose networks were based on the daily commute to and from the central business district. Most places in the world that are less car-dependent than the US followed this model, but at least, all these new office parks should have required transit access, especially if they got tax breaks to be built.
  • We could learn from Japan in this aspect: They have national and local expressway companies (they are public corporations, not agencies). The tolls are NOT continuous; there is a separate fee for using the city tollway. In most cases, the city tollways are built OVER/UNDER existing roads, so they don’t need to take over (mostly black/brown/poor people’s) neighborhoods and infrastructure.
  • The acronym DOT stands for Department of Transportation, not Department of FREEWAYS. We should have also ensured the public ownership and maintenance of rail assets in the 1950s. An Interstate Railroad System to go along with the highways being built. Imagine if there were tracks in the same rights-of-way as many of the main Interstates.

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2 responses
  1. There are a lot of stories about why US cities are the way they are and, in particular, there are a lot of videos about why US public transportation is seemingly bad. What actually happened is a result of time, technology, place, population, and money.

  2. #urbanism+ (not sure how hashtags work over here… 🤷🏾‍♂️