Time for Transit?

Mass transit ridership continues to rise and it looks like some momentum is building in congress to increase capacity to meet rising demand:


One should observe that while increased drilling can’t provide any immediate relief, increased transit funding can. Building a new rail line, obviously, is a long-term endeavor. But the existing supply of buses and rail networks could operate more frequently and on more extended hours very quickly simply by offering more overtime and hiring more staff. That would provide economic stimulus by creating jobs directly, while also decreasing the costs (either financial or in terms of time) of commuting to work, and by shifting some cars off the road would decrease congestion problems for the highest-value trips. Obviously, it would go against everything America stands for to respond to economic problems by enhancing bus service, but it’s still a good idea.

Meanwhile, relatively cheap transit enhancements such buying more buses, equipping them with fancier GPS and signal priority gadgets, and upgrading bus shelters works as stimulus as well and will give us even better service in the medium-term. And then there’s new rail construction. Like new drilling, that won’t help anyone’s transportation problems in the short run. But it will provide some construction jobs in the near-term. And unlike new drilling it’ll make the environment cleaner rather than dirtier.