U.S. Moving Toward Public Transportation

Taras Grescoe examines how public transportation in the United States is gaining popularity and riders, but still lags in funding.

Taras Grescoe hears all sorts of opinions when it comes to public versus private transportation. Some see subways as cars for plebeians or "greener-than-thou zealots." Others see car commuters as selfish and "society-phobic individualists." The consistent fact he does find is the trend that people aren't using cars as much, especially younger drivers. In fact, "almost half of those aged 16 to 24 say they would choose Internet access over car ownership." Whether it's due to expensive gas or unbearably congested traffic, "across North America, transit ridership is skyrocketing."

While public transportation is becoming more popular, it's not going phase out cars any time soon. Even city residents who commute daily by subway still use cars for longer trips and for carrying big loads. In addition, federal funding favors roads and car networks to public transit systems. Grescoe notes that, "freeways...received $52 billion in federal funding in 2010, while Amtrak, in spite of record ridership, limped along with $1.5 billion in subsidies."

Ultimately, Grescoe finds that all types of transportation are useful. "[E]very subway-rider hails a taxi now and then, and even hardcore motorists find themselves longing for a bike ride in a park or a stroll on a plaza. In the city, everybody goes multi-modal."

Full Story: Return of the Straphanger Nation

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