Here’s a brief post at the America Public Transportation Association’s site about a poll on the driving habits of people who ride the bus and take the train. As the post so succinctly points out public transportation users also own cars, to the tune of 82% of the people polled. Those same people use a car to make more than three trips in a week. They are choosing to use their cars and public transportation, not one or the other.
These are people who have spent their income to own and maintain a vehicle, but still see the value in riding the bus. More importantly, they are creating a value not just for themselves, but also for their neighbors and community, by taking the bus. In areas with congested traffic they offer some relief to the network by reducing the number of cars on the road. In this region, that value in reducing congestion may look more like taking a shuttle to a show or a football game as the traffic backs up, parking lots are full, and drivers circle the block looking for a perfect, free parking spot. In our downtowns, taking the bus can reduce demand for parking, perhaps so much so that in time our community leaders can readily believe there is room for pedestrian malls and public gathering spaces instead of preserving parking spaces and building parking garages.
As the phrase “multi-modal transportation” makes the rounds, it serves us well to remember that many of us are already multi-modal, making our choices about how we get to our destination with driving, carpooling, riding the bus, walking, cycling, or some combination already in mind.