In my post on the Law of Transportation Inertia (people in cars tend to stay in cars), Joel Azumah captured the thinking of many transit planners when he commented, "I love park-and-rides. They aggregate commuters that want a better quality of life." Joel may not have a formal degree in transit planning, but as one of the most innovative transit providers in the country I would say he is certainly doing transit planning. I disagree with his statement here, but I can understand how he gets to it.
By saying that suburban drivers are "commuters that want a better quality of life," he is channeling another Joel - Joel Kotkin. The idea that suburban park-and-rides are anything but a necessary evil is permeated with Kotkinist ideas: the suburbs offer better quality of life than the cities, the suburbs are the dynamic future, the car brings freedom. Most of all, Americans want the suburbs, they want to drive.
Of course, I've got a lot of problems with Kotkinism, mostly because it's incompatible with my goals. Other transit advocates may have less of a problem, maybe because they have different goals, because they know something I don't, because I know something they don't, or because they haven't thought things through.
A Kotkinist transit planner believes that transit is good, but so are cars. Any government action that makes it harder to drive is social engineering and must be avoided. Thus, the Kotkinist transit planner's job is to allow the suburban driver to partake of the benefits of transit, without challenging his or her suburban lifestyle in any way.
While people like Joel Azumah actively believe that transit is compatible with sprawl, others may adopt this kind of Kotkinism as a purely practical stance. Someone who believes in transit may go along with the cars because they feel that any transit is better than no transit, and maybe that the cycle will take care of the cars eventually. A hardcore Kotkinist may go along with the transit to keep the masses quiet and to co-opt the transit advocates.