If SEPTA's latest budget crisis isn't averted, property values in Bucks will plummet, almost 60,000 jobs in the region will be lost, commuters will pay hundreds of dollars more per year and almost $90 million in tax revenue will vanish, according to a new study.
Check out all the links. In the meantime, one thing that strikes me can be seen in another part of the article Potts linked to:
According to the study, the loss of jobs plus an inefficient, expensive mass transit system would drive down property values by 6.6 percent, decreasing the value of a typical suburban home by about $6,900.
I wonder how this jives with the way some people view mass transit. I know a lot of people really hate sprawl. Some of them argue that roads are nefarious because they make it possible for people to leave cities and set up shop in the suburbs. And in effect take advantage of cities by working there, but living in far-flung places and starving urban centers of critical tax dollars. And that without roads, people would have to move back to cities. Or would be encouraged to do so.
But I wonder if this analysis also applies to transit to the burbs. Obviously, access to cheap transit is important to Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Merely making transit more expensive would affect home values to the tune of $7,000. Imagine what eliminating service would do. And clearly, Bucks County is part of the "suburban scourge." It is home to the second Levittown in the United States. Here's what Wiki has to say about how the suburban population grew (while Philly's declined):
Growth began in the early 1950, when William Levitt chose Bucks County for his second Levittown. Levitt bought hundreds of acres of woodlands and farmland, and constructed 17,000 homes and dozens of schools, parks, libraries, and shopping centers. At the time only people who were white could buy a home. This rule however, was soon overturned. Other planned developments included Croydon and Fairless Hills. This rapid sprawl continued till the mid-sixties.
In the 1970s, the second growth spurt began. This time developers took land in townships that were for the most part untouched. These included Middletown, Lower Makefield, and Newtown Township. Tract housing continued to move more and more towards Upper Bucks, swallowing horse farms, sprawling forests, and wetlands. At this time the Oxford Valley Mall was constructed in Middletown, which would become the business nucleus of the county.
Now, clearly, mass transit did not "cause" this out-migration. And clearly, the region was building roads at that same time. And clearly, connecting suburbs with roads has a different impact than connecting suburbs with transit. (Parking requirements come to mind.) But I was actually pretty surprised to see that the home values in Bucks were so reliant on transit. And I wonder what urban enthusiasts make of that. Sure, you could make a bigger impact by dealing with the roads. And maybe things would be better if you switched people out of cars and onto buses or trains. OK. Fine.
What I am wondering is whether or not anyone is enough of a purist to demand an end to the roads AND the transit. If anyone is so focused on the city to demand that mass transit end at the city line. That would REALLY force people back downtown, no?
That is, I think a lot of times people lump a lot of motivations together. That is, there are supposed to be two camps: people who are pro-car, pro-suburb and pro-sprawl, versus people who are pro-transit, pro-city and anti-sprawl. And those divisions seem to work given the current state of affairs. But I wonder if those affiliations will hold in all cases. I doubt it.