Here in San Diego, public transportation is on life support. Despite record ridership, trolley and bus service has been reduced, with some bus routes cancelled altogether. Fares are up across the board. The monthly light rail pass will be $72; three years ago it was $60.
This mentality represents some challenges for cities, but also some opportunities. The challenge is that if people don't have to pay for something, they probably won't. And the opportunity is that if people don't have to pay for something, they're way more likely to want it. Let's think of this concept in terms of three innately American traditions: pancakes, mobility, and beer.