A second factor in the use of mass transit is the proximity of mass transit stops to locations of high density. Having to drive to a subway stop seems to be a negative factor in the use of mass transit. If you see the high density housing being built next to the Rhode Island station of the Washington Metro or in Silver Spring you can see how attractive it is to live near a subway station.
Thirdly, the comprehensiveness of a mass transit system plays a role in its usage. Comparing the subway systems in New York and Washington to the Baltimore subway shows the importance of comprehensive subway systems. With the Baltimore's limited system it has never been an effective commuter system for most people to use. Unless you live in Owings Mills and work at Johns Hopkins Hospital it isn't much of an alternative choice for commuting.
So finally the question is what could be an effective mass transit system for Columbia? How effective are our options utilizing Howard Transit? Are Columbia and other areas of the County served by Howard Transit dense enough for mass transit? Are their enough car-less people in our area that they have to depend on mass transit? Are large buses the most efficient vehicle for the ridership in our area? I think we have all seen large buses with only one or two passengers. Have you ever seen a Howard Transit bus full or even half full? I have always had the question of why vans aren't the primary vehicle for our mass transit given the limited usage we have in this area. How can we feel good about the "carbon foot" of our large buses carrying a couple of riders? Is Federal and State funding for mass transit limited to large buses? Given the limited usage of our present system would it not be more efficient to consider something different such as a greater use of para-transit for meeting our mass transit needs?
These are just some observations from a non-transit person so maybe there are some facts of which I am not aware. I would be glad to be filled in on that information.
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