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Economy

What Transit Will Actually Look Like in the New Suburbia

Or, why we should fall in love with ride-share, buses, and walking.
A rendering of Bridge Park, a mixed-use development in suburban Dublin, Ohio.
A rendering of Bridge Park, a mixed-use development in suburban Dublin, Ohio.Dublin, Ohio / Crawford Hoying

As the Manhattanization of America rolls on — the urbanization of not just our cities but our suburbs —  many of these efforts are taking place in the depths of car-dependent suburbia. So while developers tout walkability, sense of community, and access to an "exciting Main Street environment," a car may still be necessary to commute to work, or for any kind of substantial errand. The historian Kenneth T. Jackson, author of the masterful Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States, once pointed out to me that in many of these new developments, you can buy milk, an ice cream cone, and a great cup of coffee, but you can't buy a mattress. The point is, most households in these communities will still need a car, sometimes two.

This enrages some transit purists. No matter how vibrant a newly developed downtown, if you're not removing the need for a car, you're not really urbanizing the suburbs and making them more livable. Right?