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Why American public transit is so bad | 2020 Election



Most Americans have no choice but to drive. How do we change that?

What do you wish the presidential candidates would talk about? http://vox.com/ElectionVideos

In the middle of the 20th century, the US government made a decision that would transform American cities: It built a huge system of interstate highways, many of which went right through the downtowns of its biggest cities.

This sealed the country’s fate as a car culture, and today we’re seeing the results. In most cities, it’s extremely difficult to get around without a car, in part due to public transit systems built to serve an outdated commute. And when our politics turn to infrastructure, the government often favors building new roads and highways instead of improving and expanding public transportation.

The result is a system that forces more Americans to drive, at the expense of those who rely on public transit. It’s also the biggest contributor to our country’s carbon footprint. Fixing that over the long term will require a reimagining of American cities and towns. But there’s also a way that, if we wanted to, we could improve American transit systems, and get more people riding them, in a matter of weeks.

This video is the seventh in our series on the 2020 election. We aren’t covering the horse race; instead, we want to explain the stakes of the election through the issues that matter most to you. To do that, we want to know what you think the presidential candidates should be talking about. Tell us here: http://vox.com/ElectionVideos

For Jonathan English’s research comparing Canadian and US public transit: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-08-31/why-is-american-mass-transit-so-bad-it-s-a-long-story

For research on suburban commutes from the Brookings Institution’s Adie Tomer, Joseph Kane, and Jennifer S. Vey: https://www.brookings.edu/interactives/connecting-people-and-places-exploring-new-measures-of-travel-behavior/

For more of Vox’s coverage on public transportation: https://www.vox.com/2015/8/10/9118199/public-transportation-subway-buses

For more historical maps on how the federal highway system transformed cities: http://iqc.ou.edu/2014/12/12/60yrsmidwest/

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