Commentary

Who wants to live in Manhattan?

Everyone will, if transit advocates would actually get their way. A recent study from the University of South Florida for the Florida DOT estimated what it would take to shift households from cars to public transit. Households would save about $3,500 on average if they gave up their car and hoofed it on public transit. But, here’s the kicker: to make transit competitive about half of that savings would go into expanding the transit system. Moreover, 88 percent of the increse in transit ridership comes from households moving from one car to zero. So, the only way to boost transit ridership in a meaningful way is to eliminate automobiles, if not directly then indirectly. By making conditions so miserable for automobile use, people won’t even buy a car, let alone use it Where do these conditions exist? Try Manhattan. At more than 50,000 people per square mile, fewer than 5 percent of residents commute by car.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.