Improving transit also increases the number of cars on the roads

The Bus Rapid Transit in Guangzhou, China  (See how wide that road is?)

The "War on the Car" may be as doomed as our previous "War on Poverty", the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Homelessness". Building subways, LRTs and Bus Rapid Transit lines (BRT) allow cities to move far more people faster and safer but they will not reduce the number of cars on the roads. The opposite; they increase the number of cars on the road.

What Guangzhou can teach us
Guangzhou in particular has been hailed by transit experts as a glowing example for what Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) can do for cities. The 14-mile corridor serves some 800,000 passengers each day, and receives praise for its meticulous design that integrates the city’s existing subway system and various bike-share options.

A 2011 report by Institute of Transportation Development Policy credits the BRT for making bus and car trips 29 and 20 percent faster, respectively.

Subways & Light Rail Transist (LRT) lines

Subway & LRT lines in two nearby Chinese cities

Subway & LRT lines in Chinese cities encourages increases population density. Each line can support hundreds of thousands of passengers every day. There is no doubt about that.

What about cars?
As the researchers behind a 2014 study—using Guangzhou as a case study—determined that transportation efficiency invites more automobile traffic.

“Total number of cars will always maintain the rising trend due to population increase and economic development,” determined Yang Yang, Peitong Zhang, and Shaoquan Ni in their article for Transportation Research Procedia.

Unexpectedly, the larger the construction scale for mass transit, the more the number of cars, which means that urban rail transit cannot reduce total number of cars on the roads.

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