Imagining a city without its public transportation

The Atlantic Cities reviews the work of WMATA (DC’s transit agency) on the business case for transit.  They turned off public transportation in the regional transportation model.

“It was literally just imagining Washington, and all of a sudden, you wake up tomorrow, and the transit system isn’t there, Antos says. “What would you do?”

People, it turns out, do something very interesting. They stop making long car trips because the traffic is so bad. In one hypothetical scenario, Antos took away the transit but kept the rest of the area’s road infrastructure the same. People were allowed to change their trip patterns – to chose different jobs or shopping centers – and most of them stopped crossing the region to get to those things.

“The congestion was forcing people to regress into a more local economy,” Antos says. “We looked at that and realized we were watching the economy splinter. All of a sudden, we weren’t watching a regional economy function where workers could find jobs in the whole region.”

People weren’t crossing county lines – or even rivers – to get anywhere.

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