“The recent declines in transit ridership are a continuation of trends that began before 1920: the most important of these are the increasing levels of auto ownership and the migration of jobs and people to the suburbs.”
“A century ago, transit was a vital part of American urban economies. At least outside of New York City, that is no longer true. It’s time to stop wasting $54 billion a year pretending that it is.”
Randal O’Toole is the proverbial gentleman and scholar. His decades of work on transportation issues has held up well–very well. And so it was with great interest that I read his latest Policy Analysis for the Cato Institute, “Transit: The Urban Parasite” (April 2020).
Some highlights follow:
“Data released by the Federal Transit Administration in December 2019 indicate that 2018 transit ridership fell in 40 of the nation’s top 50 urban areas, and, over the past five years ridership has fallen in 44 of those 50 urban areas.”
“These declines [in transit ridership] have taken place in spite of huge increases in spending on public transit.…
“In a paper being published in the March-April  edition of the journal Environment, Matthew C. Nisbet … said Mr. Gore’s approach, focusing on language of crisis and catastrophe, could actually be serving the other side in the fight … ‘as global-warming alarmism….'” – Andrew Revkin, NYT (2009).
“There has to be a lot of shrillness taken out of our language. In the environmental community, we have to be more humble. We can’t take the attitude that we have all the answers.” – Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund (2011).
A backlash against climate alarmism is evident. Witness the interest in Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never, building on his argument presented at Forbes seven months ago, Why Climate Alarmism Hurts Us All.
Bjorn Lomborg’s new book, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet,” also a best seller, demotes the climate scare at just the time the other side wants panic.…
“An unstated premise of eco-pessimism is that environmental conditions are, or recently were, optimal. The proclaimed faith of eco-pessimists is weirdly optimistic: These optimal conditions must and can be preserved or restored if government will make us minimize our carbon footprints and if government will ‘remake’ the economy.” (George Will, 2009)
Climate alarmism is now in its 4th decade. It can be dated, at least, to James Hansen’s congressional testimony in mid-1988, which inspired the New York Times to report on the front page:
If the current pace of the buildup of these gases continues, the effect is likely to be a warming of 3 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit from the year 2025 to 2050…. The rise in global temperature is predicted to cause a thermal expansion of the oceans and to melt glaciers and polar ice, thus causing sea levels to rise by one to four feet by the middle of the next century.