Cars: A Bad Romance
We didn't need another figure telling us why cars are a poor transit solution, but here we go: CBS Detroit reported yesterday that Metro Detroiters spend an average 40 hours per year in traffic jams.
40 hours. That's almost two days a year simply waiting to get where we're trying to go. And then there are those other car-related nuisances--parking tickets, digging out from under the snow, getting gas, maintenance. The associated study, from researchers at Texas A&M's Transportation Institute, predicts that between time and gas, the average annual cost of traffic jams to a Metro Detroit driver is $859.
When it comes to cars and the freedom to fully decide our schedules...cars win. What's more, we're letting them.
Last month, a team of Italian researchers published a study delving into what they call the "car effect"--the confounding discoovery that humans irrationally favor cars. That is, despite cars potentially costing us more time, inconvenience and money, we will still choose cars 2-1 over better transit alternatives.
The finding begs two questions. First, why? And, secondly, how do we overcome this?
Michigan's transit future has been looking bright recently, with Amtrak reporting record highs for ridership, the momentum behind and passage of the Regional Transit Authority, and the subsequent funding announcement from the U.S. Transportation Secretary.
Yet, beyond political, infrastructural, or economic, the most difficult hurdles to using transit alternatives could be psychological. While we may assume that Motor City motorists sit for 40 hours in traffic because they don't have another option, and that behavior will change once we build Southeast Michigan's regional transit, this might not actually be the case.
It is up to us to change transit culture in our communities and in our own minds, consciously making the decision to choose transit options that are better for our environment, health and cities. The future for Michigan transit looks bright, but we get to choose whether or not our state's recent wins truly realize their full impact.blog comments powered by Disqus