Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: The Role of Transit in Economic Growth

May 11, 2011
Region Forward


Earlier this week we noted the dilemma environmentalists often find themselves in when they contemplate putting the effects of environmental degradation into economic terms. By essentially putting a price on nature environmentalists are confronted with the unpleasant notion of placing the earth and its ecological benefits on par with other things that we stick a dollar value on. Like French fries or magazines. However disconcerting we argued that it may sometimes be necessary to make this calculation in order to convince others who are less environmentally-conscious that it’s something worth protecting.

That’s a difficult decision to make and an even more difficult calculation to perform. One that’s slightly less arduous to determine but no less important is the connection between access to transit and economic growth. The principle’s quite simple: if you can’t get to work or it costs too much to do so there’s going to be slack in the system. That slack is unemployment and it’s something we need to minimize in times of economic scarcity. That’s the topic of conversation tomorrow as Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program holds a live event and webinar to discuss the release of a new report Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America. In what appears to be a groundbreaking report expounding on the economic implications of transit accessibility (or the lack thereof) experts hope to “inform critical policy and investment decisions at a time of scarce public and private resources.”

The forum and webinar will include a discussion with DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan as well as several experts in the field such as Robert Puentes Bruce Katz and Alan Berube. If you’re one of our regular readers this is probably right up your alley. However if you can’t make it to the event or catch it online we’ll be giving a summary of the report during the next few days here at The Morning Measure.

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