What is the moral case for public transit?

I have to write a section for a handbook on environmental ethics (the update for this very good volume here),  and the editors have asked me for a section on transit.  I’ve been a bit of a loudmouth over the years about the sloppy environmental assertions made around transit–that is, planners usually start their justifications for transit or TOD with some no-brainer “It saves the environment” talk at the beginning of their articles, with the unstated “and, therefore, we must do it” to follow. Which is fine as long as you are talking to other planners and not fine if you are taking to a TEA party type for whom knee-jerk appeals to saving the environmental sound like fingers on a chalkboard.  Since it’s an environmental ethics handbook, I will have to start with consequentialist arguments about the environment and see what we can do with them.

Then there are the rights to the city arguments. Basic good arguments.  Where will they go? Those are hard for me because of the standard rights claims and counter-claims.

I’m starting the outline today.   You tell me.