According to the fabulous California real estate blog CurbedLA, transportation theorists may have made a big miscalculation when it comes to finding methods for getting people to make the most of public transportation. Apparently, these “experts” once believed that people are more likely to take the train to work if the train is close to their homes. Thus, residential zones sprung up around transportation hubs, easy access to buses and trains was used as a selling point for condos and apartments, etc.
As it turns out, nobody is any more likely to take the train to work just because they live nearby. But they MAY forego driving – and the gas, pollution, and guilt that goes with it – if their job is close to to public transit.
All this is being discussed by CBS San Francisco as some kind of revelation, some crazy reversal of “conventional wisdom” as the result of a “study” – but I have to ask, is this not the Most Obvious Thing Ever?
Anyone who’s ever commuted a week in his/her life will respond with a resounding, “Duh”. It’s easy to get your roommate or your boyfriend to drop you off at BART in the morning, as long as you know that when you get off the train you can waltz right in to work in five minutes or less. If you have to change modes of transportation more than once or if the walk from the station to your office is just a little too far, you probably won’t take public transportation unless your car is in the shop.
And who could blame you? We all want to do our part to save the earth. We all hate sitting in traffic. But there’s a recession on – people are taking jobs where they can get them. Civic/environmental virtue is taking (literally) a back seat.
If people are going to stop driving, two things need to happen. First, public transit needs to be cheaper than driving. There’s a whole other debate attached to that, of course. Second, private companies who want happy, progressive, environmentally-responsible employees need to take public transit into consideration when they choose office space and determine wages and benefits.
We’ll be holding our breath to see what other wild revelations CBS San Francisco has in store for us……