But on the other hand, rail transit (third item down) has some Los Angeles commuters forming friendships on the long trip to work, the Los Angeles Times reports. And not just nodding acquaintanceships but deep friendships. … Academics are taking note too. Rail, they say, lends itself to socializing. “A mode of transportation like a train is much more of a social mode than a car,” said one. “When you are in a train, you have to interact with other people.” So the purpose of transportation policy isn’t getting you where you need to go, it’s socialization? Maybe we shouldn’t measure transportation plans’ cost-effectiveness based on their cost per new passenger or cost per delay hour saved, but on cost per new friendship made. But wait, how well would transit do on that measure? Transit commuting tends to take much longer than commuting by car, so we can assume that rail commuters are also passing up social opportunities. Maybe they get home too late to take in a Dodgers’ game, see the school play, or bring a casserole to a pot luck dinner.
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.