As a Transportation Commissioner I often wrote about transportation issues in The Union and on this blog, especially about the transit issues. Local liberals often cited the need for more public transit, yet even a casual observer could see all the empty seats on the Gold County Stage. People were not using the existing service and their was no indication that anything would change.
San Francisco was often cited by our local liberals as a example of great public transportation. An they were right. A new study by the Brookings Institution found that compared with the rest of the nation, the Bay Area has good public transportation.
So…if Bay Area transit is so good, why doesn't anybody seem to take it, asks Gretchen Weber in a KQED Climate Watch article here.
Just one out of ten people in the Bay Area commute by public transportation, according to John Goodwin of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. He says that number hasn't changed much over the years, despite huge investments in the system. And the Bay Area isn't alone in that. A recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that between 1990 and 2008, the share of commuters taking transit increased by less than one percentage point, from 5% to 5.5%, despite the construction of 217 new rail stations, and the fact that more than a third of California's transportation spending since the early 1980s has gone to public transit.
"The California public likes the idea of public transit in the sense that they highlight it as a place where we should be investing a lot of our dollars," said the PPIC's Ellen Hanak. "But there is a gap between what people say, and how they actually sort of vote with their feet. It’s almost like people would like their neighbors to take transit so they could have fewer cars on the road."
Now if you recall Senate Bill 375 was passed in 2009 to nudge regional planning agencies into linking land use and transit in ways that will get people to drive less. Transportation makes up 37% of all greenhouse gas emissions in California, so to reduce those gases there has to be fewer people on the road. In other words to reduce vehicle miles traveled and CO2 by15%, CARB wants to force people to use public transportation, by mandating all future housing and commercial development be transit centric.
The problem, the people have demonstrated with their feet, even with huge investment in transit funding, they are not going to use public transit. Social engineering only works if it take in to account how people really act, not now the liberals would like them act. Reality is a power force for change.