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The same “empty buses” fallacy, over and over

Posted By Angie Schmitt On November 16, 2012 @ 10:30 am In Featured | No Comments

This morning, Andrew Sullivan [1], whom I usually find intellectually engaging, featured [2] a confused article about transit productivity [3] from Eric Morris on the Freakonomics blog.  It’s the old line about how because buses are often empty, they’re not a very efficient transit mode.  I first rebutted it three years ago [4] and the rebuttal hasn’t changed at all.

I quickly wrote the letter below. But the big announcement is after the letter!

Eric Morris on the Freakonomics blog has fallen into the familiar trap …

To put my remarks in context: I’ve been a transit network design consultant for 20 years, and am also the author of the blog HumanTransit.org and the book Human Transit [5] (Island Press, 2011) which rebuts many of the false assumptions in this article.

Morris’s argument rests on the false assumption is that transit agencies are all trying to maximize ridership as their overriding objective.


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URL to article: http://streetsblog.net/2012/11/16/the-same-empty-buses-fallacy-over-and-over/

URLs in this post:

[1] Andrew Sullivan: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com

[2] featured: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/11/are-we-overselling-public-transit.html

[3] a confused article about transit productivity: http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/11/07/can-mass-transit-save-the-environment-right-wing-or-left-wing-heres-a-post-everybody-can-hate/

[4] three years ago: http://www.humantransit.org/2009/12/yet-another-transit-isnt-green-because-of-empty-buses-story.html

[5] Human Transit: http://islandpress.org/ip/books/book/islandpress/H/bo8076012.html

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