US housing crisis underlines role of transit in reducing poverty, a lesson Metro Vancouver should remember

The explosion of poverty in America’s car-friendly suburbs, where waves of foreclosures are stripping families of their equity, is underlining the importance of public transit in supporting families on low income. The crisis is deepening this week as many states halt foreclosure sales because of fraud claims, a development that giving the US economy a further pounding.

But as this note on Planetizen makes clear, the newly-poor in these suburbs have no access to cheap public transit to continue job hunts or even get to work. Nor can their cash-strapped municipalities even think about new transit investment.

It’s a timely reminder that Metro Vancouver and Translink policy-makers need to avoid an academic argument over whether or not investments should serve existing ridership (as on the Broadway Corridor) or in emerging, lower-density communities (like Surrey). We need a pragmatic plan to do both, so that workers can get to the jobs.

In the longer-term, suburban planning needs to evolve its own town-centre approach to support transit where the car is now king.