Title

BENEFITS OF TRANSIT IN SMALL URBAN AREAS: A CASE STUDY

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1998

Subject Area

land use - impacts, economics - benefits, place - urban, mode - mass transit

Keywords

Transit services, Transit, Small cities, Public transit, Mass transit, Local transit, Economic impacts, Danbury (Connecticut), Costs, Case studies, Benefits

Abstract

Although the value of transit subsidies is debated at the national level, local decision makers must decide whether it is economically worthwhile to operate transit given the federal and state subsidies currently in place. This issue is examined with respect to a recent study of the economic impacts of the Housatonic Valley Regional Transit District (HART) based in Danbury, Connecticut. The study methodology combined several recently developed benefit classification systems and benefit estimation methodologies. Like many similar studies, the methodology compares current service with the null hypothesis, the discontinuation of transit services. A survey of transit patrons was conducted to examine trip purpose, economic expenditures, and alternatives to HART services. The cost and benefits of local public transportation are examined and quantified. Issues include costs for transit users switching to alternative modes, economic and social costs of forgone trips, accidents, air pollution, congestion, and HART employment, purchases, and capital expenditures. This analysis indicates that publicly operated transit provides significant benefits to a local community compared with costs contributed by the community. The methodologies could be employed using a state or federal perspective to examine the economic efficiency of the transit funding decisions made at those levels of government.