Don't be so quick to dismiss public transit as a viable mode of commuter transportation

Wendell Cox's recent commentary dismissing transit as an efficient means of commuter travel displays a typically car-centric and myopic view of public transportation ("Before increasing taxes, increase trust," Oct. 12). It also offers conflicting statistics and draws questionable conclusions.

Mr. Cox says people do not use transit because it fails to reduce transit times and because fewer than 10 percent of jobs in the area can be reached by transit within 45 minutes. Yet the average car commute in Maryland is already 45 minutes.

He then concludes that public transit is not a viable option for the overwhelming majority of workers in Maryland, but that misses the point that no one ever expected transit to serve everyone. It does serve many people very well, and that benefits us all.

The simplistic car-centric view leads to a common misunderstanding of the value of transit to Marylanders. Traffic flow is non-linear, as anyone who has driven on a Friday probably has noticed: Some federal employees on flex-time take the day off, but reducing the number of cars on the road by just 3 percent or so gives a significant boost to overall traffic flow.

People who ride transit may take longer to get to work, but they make far better use of their time by reading, writing catching up on work or napping instead of sitting in frustration in traffic. They also avoid parking problems, parking costs and risk to their vehicles, not to mention the huge capital investment car ownership represents.

Bob Bruninga, Glen Burnie

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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