Before the last five years, few people were discussing transit deserts because of the arrival of rideshares and hybrids. Transportation was considered a personal responsibility, and it was the problem of marginalized people to traverse communities regardless of the cost of living. Fortunately, more people are realizing a fundamental truth: almost no one will be able to stay in one community to accomplish all of life’s tasks. Creating affordable means for all residents to move across the built environment is the responsibility of those who plan the surroundings, especially for those of limited means.
When rideshares were introduced, everyone was excited about the possibility of either being business owners or an increase in the number of taxis, reducing wait times. However, what few people understood was that more cars on the road were more cars, regardless of commuting traffic or leisure traffic. Not only did the wait times increase because of traffic, those who were using the available public transit were also held back, allowing no one to conveniently cross town. The increase is such that commuter traffic is no longer limited to the mornings and afternoons, Mondays through Fridays. In some cities, there are no acceptable times to drive or even travel within city limits.
With the traffic comes the smog, and the hole in the ozone layer stopped being a significant concern to curb the behavior in the United States. Many reports have made circulation that now state that exercising outside is just as harmful as smoking due to exposure to exhaust. Most of the people who are exposed to the fumes are marginalized, which means that they have no choice but to be exposed to busy roadways and high levels of exhaust. When planning for “beautifully built communities,” developers dismiss how their efforts will affect those who are forced to work around their “great ideas.”
Adding insult to injury, most of the transit-oriented development is being planned for those in the upper middle to wealthy classes. Marginalized people have either of two bad choices to get to work, school, or any personal errands. They can either drive under dubious circumstances (without insurance, poor quality vehicles) or they can walk or bike long distances in unsafe circumstances (without sidewalks in heavy traffic). Ironically, even though the transit is located in high-income neighborhoods, residents who choose not to personally drive still use rideshares all the time, which means that they are not reducing the number of cars at any given time. Having more disposable income means they can make more trips to more places and keep traffic concentrated for hours.
Everyone who lives in a city will have to move around the city, and some people have more ways than one. Offering public transportation around all neighborhoods is not only about raising taxes for government services. It concerns the assurance of telling the marginalized that they deserve not to be trapped beyond their control, either at home or in the service industries where they work.