News Article

Why Federal Transit Hasn't Lived Up to Its Promises

Via » Submitted On Mon, 02/11/2013 - 6:52pm by Norman Wolfe

the federal transit program has failed to deliver on its promised objectives, despite having received generous federal gas tax subsidies for the past three decades. Namely, it has been unable to:

  • Relieve traffic congestion. Traffic congestion has worsened in all major metropolitan areas, shown by a 125 percent increase in peak period travel times. Transit has not convinced Americans to abandon their cars. Since 1970, 58 million more people have chosen to get to work by car each day, while the number of transit commuters has increased by only 250,000. Transit has actually suffered a travel market share loss in urban areas.
  • Provide mobility to jobs for low-income citizens. Low-income workers in metropolitan areas—those earning less than $15,000 per year—use cars at nearly the same rate as their more affluent yet equally rational neighbors. Transit does not give them a practical transportation alternative.
  • Reduce air pollution. Transit has not reduced the volume of traffic, nor is it likely to convince enough drivers to make the switch to transit going forward. Thus, Cox explains, transit can claim only a 0.3 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from cars. Such a small “gain” carries an enormous price tag: $4,000 per ton of pollution reduced.


Motorists and truckers pay the federal gas taxes that fund transportation. Because of the sizable diversion of this money to transit, funding for roads and bridges has been stretched razor thin.

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