The decline of family time: a compelling argument for (faster) rapid transit

In the perennial debate between “really fast” rapid transit advocates — the Skytrain people here in BC — and the “fast enough but much cheaper” light rail crowd, I’ve tended to lean to the fastest options for a simple reason: it puts more personal time into the lives of working families.

Saving six minutes each way on a daily commute may not sound like much, but it adds up to an hour a week or four hours a month to be spent as you wish, but probably relaxing with your family. Is this so bad?

Yes, the cost of the infrastructure may be $1 billion more. To many, however, the benefit would be priceless. This social gain is not factored into transit purchase decisions.

Now a new study shows that “inequality of well-being” is even more badly distributed than income. Basically, the study examines how much time and money families have at various places on the economic scale.

No matter how hard young families work, their incomes are stagnating and their personal time is declining. Not so for those at the top of the scale, who have both more money and more time.

Vision Vancouver’s transit platform, soon to be released, will continue the push for rapid transit along the Broadway Corridor. Skytrain all the way to UBC? Maybe not all the way and certainly not immediately, but for most riders, the demand is “get me there as fast as you can.” This study shows why.

Faster transit — it’s better for the planet, better all ’round.