One maxim transportation engineers always quote is “You are the traffic” (the good ones anyway). The D.C. area, thanks to the never-ending clusterfuck that is de facto SafeTrack, provides a natural experiment in just how important mass transit is, even if you yourself never use it (boldface mine):
Researchers in the Federal Transit Administration’s Office of Planning found significant increases in traffic volumes across the region during Metro’s “surges” that began in 2016, compared to the same periods a year earlier…
Overall Metrorail ridership dropped an average of 10 percent during the surges, with a significant portion of those riders apparently switching to driving to work alone…
During the 2016 surges, drivers crossing between Maryland and D.C. saw 1.8 percent increases in traffic volumes on interstates and major collector roads, 2 percent on minor arterial roads and 2.8 percent on principal arterial roads.
Volume on many major Virginia roadways to and from D.C. increased a similar amount, about 2.5 percent.
Travel speeds on the roads dropped as much as 5.2 mph. The slowdowns averaged 2.1 mph across all the surges. The biggest differences were during rush hour and in the middle of the day.
Keep in mind, those mph decreases are not speed limit decreases but average commuting trip decreases–making 20 mph during rush hour would be miraculous. In many cases, these delays easily added ten to twenty minutes to commute times.
So, if you tell yourself ‘Metro doesn’t matter, fuck paying for it’, trust me, you are paying for it, with wasted time.