11 January 2018

What Elon Musk Doesn't Get About Urban Transit

The most common falsehood about transit, the one that underlies most of the comments transit agencies receive and many of the worst mistakes in transit planning, is this: “Transit would be better for everyone if it were better for me.”  

A special danger arises when relatively wealthy people take this view, demanding that expensive mass transit systems be designed according to their personal tastes. I call this mistake elite projection, and explore it here. Many poor transit investments have arisen from a too-small group of fortunate people assuming that everyone shares their tastes and priorities. They forget that to be elite is to be a minority, and it makes no business sense to design transit around elite tastes if what you really want are lots and lots of riders.