public transportation

shouldn't it be the ex-president george bush turnpike now?

shouldn't it be the ex-president george bush turnpike now?

Proponents of public transportation sometimes skip its economic and environmental benefits and focus on its social benefits. On this view, public transportation performs the difficult to quantify but valuable service of socializing and uniting a society. All types of people ride the subway and so each rider is forced to come into contact with the society that they inhabit. Not only does this built awareness of the mutuality of modern societies, the argument goes, but it also builds a resevoir of civic pride. A trivial but provocative example is the scores of people jammed into the subway to see a red sox game in Boston.

However, I think this argument about the sociality of public transportation versus cars is too quick. If one can choose between buying a car or taking public transportation, public transportation is attractive because of its price. However, when a person cannot use public transportation, they face a choice between buying a car or, the often overlooked option of sharing a car.

Originally, I’m from Dallas, and sharing rides was common. Not only did my mom and dad drop me off and pick me up from school well after kids in cities with public transportation would use buses and subways, but we would carpool with other kids at my school. And, after I grew up, it was common for me or others to drive people around.

I’m not saying that people in cities without developed public transportation systems don’t share rides, my point is just that in driving cities its common to drive out of one’s way to pick someone up as well as to increase the number of high passenger trips.

So, I think in one sense, driving cities are just as social as cities with public transportation; its just that in driving cities one often rides with friends and family whereas in public transport cities, one rides with strangers. Both of which have value.


1 Response to “public transportation”

  1. October 22, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I enjoyed reading your post. I have been taking public transportation regularly since the 1990’s and was commenting about some of my experiences recently. The truth is you see all sorts of people from all walks of life. I said myself, “If there is one thing that I have learned in all the years I have taken public transportation its this, People never cease to amaze me.” . You really do see it all.

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