Selling voters on mass transit as a solution to traffic jams has always been easy since they seem to think that the person in the car in front of them will get off the road and ride the bus.

So why has transit failed as a solution to San Diego regional transportation problems? The easy answer is that, for half a century or more, we have built this region around the automobile. Transit works in New York or London because of density and concentration of points of origin and destination.

Other than downtown San Diego, we do not have an urban design that enables a sufficient number of people to conveniently use transit in their daily lives. Coupled with that is the quality and frequency of service and the insecurity felt by potential riders. For taxpayers there is the added burden of substantial subsidies necessary to keep many routes and services alive. An alternative would be to concentrate transit dollars in the urban core, but that would leave those elsewhere in the region without alternatives stranded.

What troubles me most is our inability and unwillingness to frankly, candidly, objectively and honestly talk about transit. Can we stop mythologizing? If the king has no clothes could we begin to deal with the naked truth about transit?


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