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Friday, February 1, 2019

Rail Transit Is a Dead End, but Social Planners Keep Pushing for More: New at Reason

By Reason Staff - February 01, 2019 at 08:00AM

It has been around 15 years since Orange County tried to build a $1 billion light-rail system that would have gone from one suburban parking lot to another. It would have moved around half of 1 percent of the county's commuters. The so-called Centerline was supposed to reduce congestion overall, but studies found it would have actually increased congestion along main thoroughfares.

There is nothing wrong with expanding bus service and building new rail lines—provided they actually enable people to get where they are going. However, urban planners' fixation on transit stems more from social engineering than transportation engineering. The latter develops projects that enable people to get from Point A to Point B. The former builds projects designed to change the public's behavior—prodding them into getting around in ways the planners believe is best.

This highlights the real problem with transit. Planners, not consumers, drive it. Real private enterprises—as opposed to firms receiving taxpayer-funded subsidies to build government-directed projects—would never build a rail system based on an "if we build it, they will come" model. They would build systems that meet customer needs rather than fulfill wishful fantasies, writes Steven Greenhut.

View this article.


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