Transit planning and funding should be conducted at a broad level with discussion not just within cities, but between them as well.
Traditionally, transit has been considered a city-centric issue. Funding for transit and capital decisions have historically been decided based on narrow local interests. Transit needs to be considered as a regional need rather than a local one.
In the past, commuter rail has been designed almost exclusively for commuters working in 9-to-5 jobs in city centers. Mass transit has been designed for high-density travel near the inner-city core. Buses have been used as a slower and cheaper option for use in smaller communities. The result is a system where even the best transit has a narrow range of functions.
This way of thinking has been costly, resulting in a higher cost of living and disconnected communities. We thought we could get away with it when gas was 50 cents a gallon, but we cannot afford it as gas approaches $4.00.Just as every community needs highways, every community needs transit, in one form or another, and the services need to interconnect. We need a new transit paradigm. We need to recognize that transit is a broader issue, redefine transit's role and develop new funding streams to make transit thrive.