Have American cities stopped growing at the urban fringe? Some people think so based on a trend of one or two years during the worst recession since the Great Depression. The Antiplanner’s loyal ally, Wendell Cox, doesn’t think so.
Are Americans shifting in droves from from cars to public transit? Based on similar short-term evidence, Colorado PIRG and US PIRG think so. The Antiplanner thinks this is just wishful thinking on the part of those who don’t like suburbs or automobiles.
I respect the choices American make. But when vehicle miles of driving decline by 1.6 percent (which they did from 2006 through 2010) and transit passenger miles increase by 0.9 percent (which they did between 2006 and 2010; see page 11 and the service spreadsheet of the 2010 National Transit Database), it doesn’t mean drivers are switching to transit in large numbers. After all, transit carries only about 1 percent of the passenger miles of cars, so only about 1 percent of the decline in driving resulted in more transit ridership. Actually, not even that, because urban driving actually increased by 2.5 percent between 2006 and 2010.
The USPIRG report tries to claim that young people have idealistically decided not to drive and to take transit instead. This is a sample of 1, but when I was in my 20s I lived in high-density, inner-city neighborhoods and bicycled everywhere. Now I live in an exceedingly low-density neighborhood, but still bicycle a lot. But I wouldn’t consider that much of a trend. Instead of basing plans on short-term trends and wishful thinking, let’s wait and see.