Austin, Texas Living in an Urban Design Fantasy World

Austin city planners are writing a transportation plan based on the assumptions that, by 2039, the share of people who drive alone to work will drop from 75 percent to 50 percent while the share who take transit to work will increase from 3 to 16 percent. This is like planning for dinner by assuming that food will magically appear on the table the same way it does at Hogwarts.

Because of these assumptions, planners propose to reduce parking spaces and the number of lanes open to cars on major travel routes because they won’t be needed anymore. Meanwhile, they want to spent billions expanding transit services to accommodate all of the new transit riders.

Yet the reality is that the share of people driving alone to work is growing while the share taking transit is shrinking. Since 2000, Austin has been one of the fastest-growing urban areas in America, experiencing an 85 percent growth in population. Yet actual transit ridership has fallen 22 percent, which means that per capita transit ridership has fallen by 58 percent.