would you use it if you had it?
This is going to become a more important question as cities grow in population and suburbs get farther away from the city center. Commuting time is getting longer and traffic jams are just aggravating. No one likes to wait in their car; not even with their favorite music playing.
After visiting Chicago recently I was reminded how convenient their system of public transportation is. More specifically, the “L” or elevated train impressed us because not only does it get you where you need to go, but since it is elevated, the view of the city is a unique view only seen from the train. My colleagues and I found it convenient and rather punctual. Being able to travel to areas of the city that would have taken an extremely long time to get to in a car, let alone walk, was really useful. Having to find a place to park everywhere we went would not have been possible and extremely expensive and time consuming.
Where I live has only 70,000 people in the zip code. There are less than 25,000 people in the city area, so an elevated train is not likely to appear. Public transportation is only buses and they are geared for longer trips than just a few blocks up the street. Outside the city area, most buildings have seas if not oceans of asphalt because you have to drive to get there and thus the need to park. (See my earlier post about parking).
I know public transportation isn’t cheap, its expensive to build and maintain and has a series of its own issues. However the public transportation pundits need to get this in their head, if public transportation is not more convenient than taking a car, no one will ever use it. I hear this time and time again, why don’t people take the bus? As Americans, we like our cars and until it is so painful to take our car, we’re not going to use public transportation, simple.
Everyone complains about parking in my city, but as said before, no one wants to give up their car either. It is the prime symbol of American freedom. So what gives? Can we have it both ways?.
What about you? If your neighborhood had a good public transportation system, would YOU use it? Why or why not?
top photo is from Bill Ward’s Brickpile’s photostream on Flickr (used under the Creative Common License)