Three Myths About Public Transportation

We Americans love our automobiles, which may be why we have so many prejudices and here are a few myths about public transportation.

Ask just about anyone, and they’ll be happy to tell you a few myths about public transportation. Sadly, most people happen to believe them — generally without ever having experienced any kind of public transportation system at all. For many who have, their experiences with it are minimal, at best.

In this article we’ll take a look at some general public transportation myths. This isn’t about whether a particular public transportation system is dirty or run down; that’s a function of good maintenance and decent management, as with any system. The myths we’ll look at are applicable anywhere, anytime.

Myth 1: Public transportation is only for poor people.

Certainly people of limited means are more likely to embrace public transportation than anyone else, simply because it’s reliable and saves money on auto-related costs. But this myth about public transportation is clearly mistaken if you take a look at the biggest examples.

In New York City, Tokyo, and other cities where public transportation has long been a part of the infrastructure and has really taken hold, nearly everyone uses it. It’s an integral part of the city, it’s easy to find, it’s cheap, it can take you just about everywhere, and it’s a lot easier than trying to deal with inner city traffic.

Myth 2: Public transportation doesn’t save all that much money and resources.

Well, let’s see. Until recently, gasoline cost more than $4 per gallon, and it’s not unreasonable to expect the prices to climb that high again. Then there’s parking, traffic, registration, insurance, maintenance, and…well, you get the idea. This myth about public transportation doesn’t make much sense if you think about it.

Clearly, it’s less expensive and uses fewer resources to ride the train or bus than to drive a car. Can you really argue, with a straight face, that multiplying that by millions of people doesn’t save money and resources? Didn’t think so.

This myth about public transportation is an argument used by those opposing new transport systems, but it’s a cover for the true difficulties faced in getting them built. One such difficulty is public inertia; people don’t really want to change, no matter how congested the streets are. A second is politics.

Most metro areas are comprised of many small municipalities, all of which have to be appeased to get anything like this done. Finally, putting together a good public transport system is neither cheap nor fast, and people have to pay for it out of their taxes while they watch the work creep along. Nobody cares much for that.

Myth 3: Public transportation is too slow.

By American standards, it probably is. But then, we’ve gotten accustomed to everything being fast, and are looking for instant gratification. Public transportation isn’t perfect, but it’s reliable. If this myth about public transportation has any truth at all, it’s because we’re a little spoiled by speed.

And there you have 3 busted myths about public transportation!