From Conservatives and Mass Transit: Is it Time for a New Look? by Paul M. Weyrich and William S. Lind:
“Cultural conservatives have yet another reason to be interested in mass transit: its role in helping foster a sense of community.
Community is of significant value to most cultural conservatives, for very good reason. Without it, there are few mechanisms to uphold morals and maintain standards of behavior. Traditionally, when most people were part of a community, they behaved for fear of community sanctions. But where there is no community, community sanctions cannot exist. If you do not know your neighbor, why should he care if you disapprove of his misbehavior?
Historically, transit helped foster community, just as the automobile helps undermine it. The reason is that when most people took transit, they normally walked from their homes to the bus or streetcar stop. Other people from the neighborhood were doing the same, and as they walked and at the car stop they met face to face. Since commuters tend to be creatures of habit they saw many of the same people each day. They met, talked, and got to know each other. They found a shared interest in the well-being of the neighborhood. Transit itself was part of that well-being; people had a common interest in seeing that it offered good service. Often, shops and maybe a bar or cafe opened near the stop, and a mini-community developed around it. All these influences helped a neighborhood become a community.
In contrast, the automobile works to isolate neighbors. Today, the average commuter gets in his car in his garage, turns on the heat or air conditioning and radio, hits the bar on the garage door opener and sallies forth. He does not see any neighbors; at most he sees their cars. There is no meeting, no communication. Each driver is isolated in his car, which does nothing to build a sense of community. Indeed, it works against it.”