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Mass Transit

- December 9, 2016
Can public transportation adapt to the future?
  • Overview
  • Current Situation
  • Chronology
  • Pro/Con
  • More...
Featured Report

Public transit agencies are struggling to prepare for the future. As they try to adapt to changes in technology, demographics and urban development, the agencies must balance the transportation needs of young, car-shunning urbanites with those of people with low incomes or disabilities — all while finding money for long-overdue safety upgrades. The agencies also are starting to examine the potential of integrating self-driving vehicles into their fleets. Public-transportation advocates say partnerships with Uber and other ride-hailing companies popular with Millennials are a partial solution, and in some regions voters have approved measures to boost transit funding. But transportation agencies remain dependent on federal funding, and how much those agencies might get in a new Donald Trump administration remains unknown. President-elect Trump has vowed to rebuild the nation's infrastructure, including transit, but many congressional Republicans have been cool to mass transit in the past and may resist spending large sums for new transportation projects.

President and Congress

Transit experts hope public transportation will be part of Donald Trump’s plan to revitalize U.S. infrastructure.

Local Government

Public transit initiatives address the needs of a wide range of riders.

Self-Driving Vehicles

Autonomous cars and buses could become part of public transit fleets.

1830s–1920sTransit services begin in major cities.
1950s–1960sGrowth of suburbs leads millions of Americans to buy cars and abandon public transportation.
1970s–1980sTransit enters the modern age as cities expand urban rail.
1990sU.S. strengthens role of local planning organizations in charting future transit needs.
2000s–PresentFunding squeezes and low gasoline prices hurt transit.

Can mass transit easily incorporate autonomous vehicles?


Marlene Connor
Principal, Marlene Connor Associates; Board Member, American Public Transportation Association.


Jerome Lutin
Former Senior Director, Statewide and Regional Planning, New Jersey Transit.
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