The Housing Crisis Is Intertwined With The Transit Crisis

They intersect, if you will. Even though many low-income neighborhoods in Philadelphia have available mass transit, many people still use cars (boldface mine):

Throughout many Philadelphia neighborhoods, cars are the most common commuting choice, but that is particularly the case in some of Philadelphia’s lower-income neighborhoods, like Tioga and Nicetown. Its zip code, which also includes Hunting Park, has a median household income of $18,557, one of the lowest in the city, according to the census.

In Fairhill, Philadelphia’s poorest neighborhood, almost 57 percent of commuters use cars, as do residents in North Philadelphia East and North Philadelphia West. Of the five poorest neighborhoods in the city, only Powelton has a majority of commuters who use public transportation, and that neighborhood is within earshot of the transit hub 30th Street Station

There is other evidence, though, that more people are turning to cars. SEPTA reported losing 18 million bus trips between 2016 and 2017, a decline that mirrors a national trend, said Evelyn Blumenberg, an urban planning professor at University of California Los Angeles.

“Even among population groups where transit ridership and transit use has been highest — low-income, immigrants, recent immigrants, in particular — we found a growth in driving,” she said, citing a recent study of falling public-transit ridership in Southern California…

The jobs often don’t have a 9-to-5 schedule and may require mobility. And the frequency of buses declines after rush hour, an inconvenience for people who work later

Merritt said she could take a bus to her salon job at 21st and Somerset Streets but would rather not risk being late, or not being able to get somewhere quickly if her daughter needs her. She also doesn’t feel comfortable standing outside waiting for a bus.

When the people who govern mass transit do not use it, they do not understand how critical reliability (buses and trains are on time) and service (the frequency of buses and trains) are. While this affects those who are lower-income more, a bad transit system affects everyone who doesn’t own a car–or would like not to do so. If we had better transit, more places within cities would be easier to reach, taking some pressure off of housing prices. In D.C., much of the city really isn’t served well by reliable mass transit, making less of the housing stock available, unless you’re willing (and able) to pay for a car. It’s no accident that housing near mass transit costs more, but we could reduce some of that cost, whether in low- or high-income neighborhoods, by having a better mass transit system.

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One Response to The Housing Crisis Is Intertwined With The Transit Crisis

  1. After not having a car for over 7 years, I am now getting a driver’s license & in the market for a little car. I moved to the Greater Boston area because of the superior mass transit but the high rents & the crappy MassHealth (NY Medicaid is WAY better) pushed me back to Buffalo, where I could live more affordably & get the healthcare I needed as a disabled person. But the NFTA has cut back service so drastically that I am forced (YES, FORCED) to get a car. There’s no way around it. If I want to continue seeing certain doctors which I need for my continued good health, I will need a car in 2019 … the bus no longer goes there.

    We really are a third-world nation. Between the lack of a national healthcare system & a decent mass transit system, it really shows. Not to mention the garbage everywhere. I have an association with the State University of New York at Buffalo, which has a lot of foreign students; one thing they tell me is that the United States is so very dirty. Having been to other countries, I believe them.

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