Deregulation, defunding, corporate consolidation and the decline of unionized labour is "destroying" public transportation in the United States, argues progressive journalist Chris Hedges. Working conditions are punishing for intercity drivers, many of whom must work for 100 hours a week, resulting in a dramatic increase in road fatalities. Hedges writes:
"The wreckage of the nation’s public transportation system is staggering...Our bus and rail system, compared to Europe's or Japan's is a joke. But an even more insidious process has begun. Multinational corporations, many of them foreign, are slowly consolidating transportation systems into a few private hands...The $8.5 billion stimulus package for public transportation...did not provide any money to fund operating costs for public transportation. This meant that city public bus services, which must operate on declining local tax revenue, could do little more with the stimulus money than work on infrastructure. Public transportation is increasingly part of the underground economy. Working conditions are punishing and often unsafe...Fly-by-night bus companies, union officials say, are little more than 'sweatshops on wheels.'
The only hope is the creation of rider groups in towns and cities to save public transportation."