Want to Be Green? Work at Home

Expanding mass-transit systems is a pillar of green and "new urbanist" thinking, but with few exceptions, the idea of ever-larger numbers of people commuting into an urban core ignores a major shift in the labor economy: More people are working from home.True, in a handful of large metropolitan regions, what we might call "legacy cities," trains and buses remain essential. This is particularly true of New York, which accounts for a remarkable 43 percent of the nation's mass-transit commuters, and of other venerable cities, such as San Francisco, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. Together, these metros account for 56 percent of all mass-transit commuting. But for most of the rest of the country, transit use, despite often-massive infrastructure investment, has either stagnated or declined. Among the 21 metropolitan areas that have opened substantially new urban-rail systems since 1970, mass transit's share of work trips has declined, on average, from 5.3 percent to 5 percent. During the same period, the drive-alone share of work trips, notes demographer Wendell Cox, has gone up from 71.9 percent to 76.1 percent.  Continue reading...

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