Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Imagine if the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on urban rail were spent on telecommuting

We've spent a fortune on light rail systems yet total per capita ridership on mass transit has barely budged and rides per revenue mile have declined.  At the same time the number of people who telecommute has exploded such that in most cities there are twice as many telecommuters as mass transit commuters.  We've spent a fortune trying to drag people back to a collectivist past that they fled for good reason.  Maybe we should skate to where the economic puck is going to be for a change. But to do that you first have to understand what game you're playing.

Working at home, much of it telecommuting, has replaced transit as the principal commuting alternative to the automobile in the United States outside New York. In the balance of the nation, there are more than 1.25 commuters who work at home for each commuter using transit to travel to work, according to data in the American Community Survey for 2013 (one year). When the other six largest transit metropolitan areas are included (Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, Boston and San Francisco), twice as many people commute by working at home than by transit.

Only in seriously retrograde and re-collectivizing New York City do transit users outnumber telecommuters. 

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