The alleged benefits of mass transit – less congestion, less pollution, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, better access to jobs for low income people, and economic development – are tiny or nonexistent. They cannot justify massive taxpayer subsidies, which are increasing by the year.
Congestion clogs streets, slows down buses and decreases their reliability, delays delivery services, and increases the cost of doing business. It also reduces quality of life by reducing walking distances and forcing people to drive more, which increases obesity and air pollution. New York City has some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation. A congestion pricing program, due to be implemented in 2024, could cut the number of vehicles entering the Manhattan central business district by 15-20%. This would reduce the need for cars to be parked on the street and eliminate traffic jams.
Transit agencies have a $100 billion maintenance backlog for their rail lines. They cannot keep up with this growing demand, especially since most low income households have given up on transit as a method of commuting and have purchased automobiles. As a result, transit systems with declining ridership do little to relieve congestion; nearly empty buses often increase it.
Furthermore, because bus routes can be rerouted on short notice and are not as predictable as those of subways, builders do not place the same incentive to locate new developments near bus lines as they do for rail. This results in higher prices for housing in neighborhoods with convenient bus service, which in turn lowers incomes and reduces a household’s purchasing power.