Krugman on public transport

Taking from where the Nytimes suggested the increase in public transport usage in America, Krugman says that:

But … as of 2005, only 4.7 percent of American workers took mass transit to work. So even a 10% surge in mass transit ridership would take only around half a percent of drivers off the road.

The point isn’t that nothing can be done — it’s just that serious reductions in driving would require a lot of long-term rearrangement of the way we live. It will come — but not quickly.

More on comparisons between, US, Canada and Europe,

A tale of three cities

What’s more, as far as I can make out from the data, a lot more Canadians than Americans (as a percentage of the population) have switched to public transit over the past year; because the system is there, they have more flexibility.


All in all, this comparison is a reason not to believe apocalyptic warnings about the long-run effects of energy scarcity: there’s a lot of substitution possible. America’s main problem is that we have a capital stock — cars, public infrastructure, and housing — designed for dirt-cheap oil. And the transition may be nasty.


One thought on “Krugman on public transport

  1. Expensive fuel will eventually cause large adjustments, which will reduce fuel demand certainly. But rebound effects and various political implications mean not all of the changes will help reduce traffic and its negative impact on cities.

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