Public Transport in America Could it change the nation?


Ridership- The amount of passengers (or commuters) regularly using a type of public transport.

Carbon emissions- Carbon dioxide being released into the air by the burning of coal and other non-renewable energy sources. Normally used to discuss Carbon dioxide's harm on the environment.

Infrastructure- The underlying framework such as facilities or structures in a society or business.

Commuter- Someone who frequently has to travel to their place of work.

Heavy Rail- Traditional elevated train car track, most common type of rail in America.

Heavy Rail- Traditional elevated train car track, most common type of rail in America.

Metropolitan- Relating to a metropolis, and the surrounding area nearby the metropolis.

Rails are built predominantly in these areas because people have to get around the metropolis, and people in the surrounding areas have to get to the metropolis. The high ridership in these areas pays for the high cost of building and maintaining a rail.

Is public transport in America realistic?

Probably not in the foreseeable future. Public transport despite statistics that look impressive at first, but public transport commuters are still definitely in the minority, and with the limited funding it simply does not look like a reality. Justin Fox, a writer for the Bloomberg View says that “Here you can see the great collapse in public transit ridership after World War II, followed by a modest resurgence since. Resurgence may be too strong a word, given that transit ridership has only grown about as fast as population since it bottomed out in 1972.” Many of the statistics fail to mention that the population in America is rising as much as the ridership numbers. And with the middling ridership comes what is probably the ultimate problem of public transportation in America. Funding. According to Thom Patterson, writer for CNN, “Critics aren't so sure. They talk about the cost of streetcar infrastructure and they wonder how efficient streetcars can be if ridership isn't constantly high.” Sadly all environmental advantages aside, if the money's not there the project will not happen. People who don’t even ride public transport seem to be the most passionate about it as a whole, but all the support in America does not help without any ridership.

Will public transport ever be accepted by the populace of America?

Above is an image of a Amtrak rail which runs through various parts of the United States at mid and long distance rails throughout the country.

It is not guaranteed that public transport will be making a long term comeback, but it is beginning to gain back its ridership. It is becoming more popular in America than it has been in decades due to rising concerns for the environment and the cost of everyday expenses. According to US Newswire, in reference to the increase in ridership of public transport in 1999 and 2000, “This year's ridership growth is a continuation of last year's year-end total of 9.4 billion trips, the highest peak in annual ridership in more than 40 years.” The reason for this increase could be that large cities all over America are starting to invest more in public transport. Paul Tuthill, writer for WAMC, in reference to the improvements to public transportation in Massachusetts, says that, “Ridership jumped 12 percent in September and 9 percent in October as the state’s second-largest transit authority rolled out the biggest change in fixed-route bus schedules in nearly a decade.” Improvements to infrastructure are happening all over, not just in Massachusetts but in large and middling cities all over america. Which makes it clear to see why we are seeing this increase although it is a bit misleading to see the overwhelming support for public transport and its current ridership numbers.

Below is an image of the famous New York Subway which often gets criticized for being inferior to forms of public transportation found in countries like the UK and France.

Why don’t more people ride public transport?

Americans prefer driving to public transport because it is more convenient, and many have been using highways their entire lives. According to the University of California Berkeley, in an article by Forbes, “Commuters are more likely to stop using public transit when they experience delays they can blame on the transit agency.” Along with not being able to choose your exact destination public transport also has some other inconveniences like overcrowding and long wait times. Inconveniences which well off traditional Americans do not need to deal with. Nathan Campbell, writer for the Crimson White, speculates that “Our system of roadways has unquestionably become the lifeblood of the nation. We view driving, especially in our youth, as one of our most important symbols of freedom; getting our driver’s license is a milestone that some view as more important than any birthday.” It is not surprising that public transport has not caught on overnight, the highway is a staple of American culture and identity. Although it does beg the question why we are seeing any increase in ridership now as opposed to the last few years.

Why is ridership increasing now?

Above is an image of a Peter Pan bus which frequently gets bad press for being too expensive and inconvenient which could be a reason why public transport had not caught on when they were so common.

Younger people are getting increasingly more concerned about money, and the environment. According to the American Public Transport Association, “Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary, alternative to driving.” Most commuters are younger people and middle or lower class families, or even families that are coming under financial stress for whatever reason who could really use the advantages that public transport have to offer. Economic problems have always been an issue people have been worried about the environment however has only really had the entire public’s attention in the last few decades. Thom Patterson, Writer for CNN says that “The commuter culture got tired of traffic snarls and parking headaches. We may be seeing a statistical movement partially fueled by a generation that's more concerned than their parents about cutting air pollution.” Millennials care more about the environment probably more than any other previous generations, so it makes sense that if public transport was going to get popular it would be now. Public transport has been on the rise for years now, and is currently at its most popular in decades, but it is yet to be seen whether or not this increase in ridership will lead to anything significant.

How Is Public Transport Affecting America Right Now?

Two of public transports most important qualities are it’s extremely effective in cutting down carbon emissions, and it is also much less expensive than owning a car. If it can get even one more person not driving in a car by themselves that is a victory for the surrounding area. According to the American Public Transportation Association, “A single commuter switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 percent and up to 30 percent if he or she eliminates a second car.” With the environment worsening every year people everywhere are very interested in helping their surrounding area. Although public transport isn’t just helping the environment, there is also a financial incentive. Millennials the youngest working generation who have traditionally had ridiculous financial issues with rising student loans among other expenses have been flocking to public transport in droves. According to Thom Patterson, a reporter for CNN, “The public transportation industry says commuters could gain an average annual savings of $9,635 by taking public transit instead of driving.” These are very good incentives to use public transport, but it is still unclear whether or not American public transport will sustain its popularity over time.

Works Cited

“APTA: U.S. public transportation systems see more riders in 2001; ridership shows 2.9 percent increase in second quarter.” (2001, Oct 03). U.S.Newswire, 2001, Accessed 24 January 2017.

"Public Transportation in America." YouTube, Uploaded by primebadi, 3 December 2009,

"Facts." Accessed 20 January 2017.

Peyton Shepard, Cw Staff, Sean Landry. "America needs reliable public transportation" The Crimson White. Accessed 25 January 2017.

Thom Patterson, Cnn. "5 signs America is falling in love with public transit." CNN. Accessed 8 February 2017.

Jeff Mcmahon. "Top Eight Reasons People Give Up On Public Transit." Forbes. Accessed 14 Feb. 2017.

Fox, Justin. "Cars Are Still Beating Public Transit." Bloomberg View. Accessed 17 Feb. 2017.

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.