Why Towns With Good Transit Options Are Recovering Faster From the Recession

las vegas nevada bus stop photo

Getting around by bus can be slow going in Las Vegas. Photo: time_anchor / Creative Commons.

Cities and towns with good public-transit options offer more convenience for residents and are, of course, more environmentally friendly places to live. Now it also seems these places are the ones bouncing back quickest from the economic recession.Lack of access to public transportation is a major barrier keeping out-of-work people, especially those in lower-income groups, from finding jobs, according to a new report by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. "We knew there were pockets of households who are economically hampered by the fact that they own no car and have no access to transit, but we didn't fully understand the true scope of the problem until now," report author Adie Tomer told Wired magazine's Autopia blog.

Suburbanized Employers Compound The Problem
Transit advocates told Autopia that "more than 700,000 American households do not have a car and lack access to public transit, making them less likely to find and keep jobs.... Compounding the problem is the fact employers have suburbanized as well, moving from city centers to far-off office parks."

Such facts have led some activists to address public transportation as a civil rights issue, since the lack of it in car-focused societies restricts access to job, education, and other opportunities.

Car-Dependent Places Have Lost Value
Perhaps more surprising, however, is that what creates financial challenges for individuals also seems to be problematic for entire communities struggling to right themselves economically.

"In terms of indicators like real estate values, places that have decent transit, those places are holding their value pretty well," David Goldberg of the advocacy group Transportation for America told Autopia. "The places that are utterly car-dependent have not recovered."

More On Public Transportation
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Open Data is Bringing Public Transportation Into the 21st Century
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