Evaluating Public Transit Criticism: Systematic Analysis of Political Attacks on High Quality Transit, and How Transportation Professionals Can Effectively Respond


Todd Litman

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus rapid transit, mode - rail, land use - transit oriented development, land use - impacts, planning - service improvement, planning - travel demand management, economics - benefits


Transit Oriented Development (TOD), Bus Rapid Transit, urban rail, consumer demand


High quality public transit, such as urban rail and Bus Rapid Transit, and Transit Oriented Development (TOD), can provide many benefits, including direct benefits to users and indirect benefits to other members of society. There is evidence of growing consumer demand for these options. As a result, many communities are investing significant resources to improve transit services and encourage TOD. A small but vocal group of critics attack these efforts. Critics argue that transit service improvements attract few riders, provide few benefits, are not cost effective, and are unfair to low-income residents and motorists. This report systematically evaluates these claims. Many of the critics’ arguments are based on inaccurate, incomplete or biased information. This report describes appropriate responses to inaccurate criticisms. This should be of interest to transportation professionals, public transit advocates, and anybody interested in determining optimal investments in transit service improvements and TOD.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Victoria Transport Policy Institute, copyright remains with them.