Effective public transportation relies heavily on a well-maintained and organized fleet of vehicles. However, effective public transportation is hard to come by in smaller suburban areas that tend to be more reliant on cars, resulting in public transportation being more of an afterthought. As more people start to rely on driving, low ridership and low demand for public transportation results in less funding, ultimately leading to fewer and less reliable means for mass transit. According to a Pew Research Center survey, only one-in-ten Americans (11%) say they take public transportation regularly. It is clear that driving tends to be the overall preferred means of transportation, suburban sprawl has definitely played a role in the uptick in driving and the consequential downfall of mass transit.
Suburban sprawl started happening in the 1950’s, people wanted to live outside of the city to avoid noise and have larger homes with bigger yards. At the time public transportation was only operating in city centers, so the people that chose to live outside of the city would have no other option but to drive their car to work and back. The 1950’s is when we first start seeing cars being the dominant mode of transportation, it has been over a half-century since then and this fact still reigns true today.
Despite all the new research and knowledge that has come out about the negative effects fossil fuel has on the environment, cars still remain the most popular mode of transportation. According to UCLA transportation, taking public transportation reduces CO2 emissions by 45%. Meaning that taking public transportation instead of driving alone decreases pollutants and ultimately improves air quality. Regardless of the implications, people still prefer driving over public transportation.
Some people argue that public transportation is unreliable and inconvenient. The risk of public transportation running behind and making the passengers late, is a risk that people don’t want to take. However, this argument fails to recognize that with more people taking mass transit there will be fewer cars on the roads ultimately resulting in less traffic jams. Meaning the risk of being late is reduced substantially by people relying less on their cars. Additionally, with the introduction of fleet management devices routes are optimized for efficiency, which not only results in on-time performance but also contributes to reducing C02 emissions.
Most people are already beginning to realize the benefits of having an adequately funded public transportation system. According to a Hitachi Rail report, 60% of people in Washington, D.C. would choose a better connected public transport system over driving. The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE Discretionary Grant program is already working on doing so. The RAISE program enables the department of transportation (DOT) to use a rigorous merit-based process to select projects, explore ways to deliver projects faster and save on construction costs, and make much needed investments in our nation’s infrastructure. To gain more insight about what is being done to improve the current public transit system visit the U.S. Department of Transportation website to stay informed.