Stop Talking about Stigma

If you are at all interested in public transit, you should read Jarrett Walker’s article, “Why We Should Stop Talking about Bus Stigma”  that appeared in The Atlantic Cities in July.

It’s a very insightful article. Here are some passages:

“Elites are by definition a small minority, so it makes no sense to define a vast transit network around their personal tastes.”

“Transportation planners can fall into the same fallacy by using the terms “choice” and “captive,” just as Hess does. In this orthodox binary view, the choice rider has a car in the driveway and chooses to leave it at home, while the captive rider has no alternative but to use transit. The choice rider, therefore, requires a superb service to compete with the car, while the captive rider will keep riding no matter how bad the service gets. The implication is that we’re all in one box or the other.

In fact, “choice” and “captive” are endpoints of a spectrum where most people are in the middle, just like the spectrum of income.”

“Mass transit, even the indispensable bus, will continue on that path to greater relevance to the degree that citizens care about it and demand that it be funded.

Jan

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