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If You Can’t Afford Public Transit, You Can “Choose” to Take Your Car

If You Can’t Afford Public Transit, You Can “Choose” to Take Your Car

Across the United States, demand for public transportation is on the rise and, unfortunately, so are the fares people have to pay to use the public transit systems they need.†Almost 90 percent of public transit systems have had to raise fairs or cut service in order to deal with funding cuts put in place by politicians looking to save a few bucks.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, while funding for public transportation is disappearing, funding for highway systems is increasing. According to Transportation for America:

Existing federal policy is out of date and out of touch with the reality of public transportationís growing importance to Americans and their communities. Only†18 cents of every transportation dollar supports transit and to make that situation worse, communities are required to supply a much larger matching amount compared to federally-supported highways.

A local community has to provide a dollar for each federal dollar received in transit funding, versus providing just $0.25 for each federal dollar received for highways.

Due to these funding issues, major metropolitan areas are being forced to either raise fares or cut service. Cities such as San Francisco and Boston are increasing their base fares as much as 33 percent, while cities such as Dallas and Seattle are raising base fares 17 percent. Other cities raising fares include Chicago, New York, Denver, Honolulu, Houston and Atlanta.

When Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, stated that those upset about more expensive multi-use transit passes can “make that choice” to drive a car instead of taking public transit, it spurred public outrage. Many people don’t have the choice.†These changes in public transit systems are disproportionately affecting senior citizens, students, people of color, and those who cannot afford to have a car. Keeping a car, especially in a city where parking can cost several hundred dollars per month, is extraordinarily expensive, and many simply cannot afford to do so. If fares continue to rise at the rate they have been, it may be prohibitively expensive to take public transportation, as well — that is, if routes haven’t already been cut back so much that using public transportation isn’t feasible anyway.

Public transportation is not only important for those who rely on it to get to and from work or school. It is vital in helping reduce pollution and car emissions, which is necessary in fighting global warming and keeping our air clean and breathable. If more people are prohibited from using public transit and instead decide to drive cars, pollution would become even more of a problem than it already is.

Luckily, people are speaking out against fare hikes and service cuts. In New York City, a group of volunteers led by Stefanie Gray, a Geographic Information Systems expert, set out to break the Guinness World Record for traveling the entire New York subway system in the least amount of time. Gray did this because it was something she always wanted to do, but also to draw attention to potential fare hikes. She said,†”The simple message behind the ‘Race to Stop the Fare Hike,’ is that the fare hike is in fact looming, but Governor Cuomo can stop it by providing adequate funding for reliable and affordable transit.”

The bottom line is that public transportation should remain public. Anyone who wants or needs access to these services should be able to use them on a reliable schedule and for a price that isn’t prohibitive. The ability to do so has been part of what has made American cities so important throughout history, and, if public transit remains accessible, can continue to help our cities thrive for many years to come.

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Photo Credit: Susan NYC

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5:43AM PST on Jan 4, 2013

Thank you Ashley, for Sharing this!

8:05PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Robert H- excellent reply. I agree it would help w/pollution- but not much, unless you start delivering goods w/it. OBD 2 came about in 1996- all cars have it (wanna be scared? See what's in store w/OBD 3...)- the vast majority of auto-pollution now comes from trucks- like 18-wheelers, etc. But I digress, we could definitely help things a little by using more public transportation than cars. And you're right- MANY execs use it- they use it (& pay a lot to do so) to get away from the over-population of the inner cities. And there are just as many rich dems as reps- neither want to pay more taxes, but many wouldn't mind so much, IF their $ weren't wasted so much to begin with. Everything the federal govt does involves massive waste, it seems. And both parties are into wasting our $... But you're right that the right wants to privatize more- of course, the dems seem to want to sell out to unions more- who's the fairer master? I think neither. I still have an issue w/Emanuel saying to take your own car if you can't afford public trasit... Pretty sad. Hey, if you can't afford rent for your 1 bedroom apt, buy a new mansion...!?

1:47PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Robert H., very well said. Star coming your way :)

12:40PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

IN Chicago and Dallas it is not just poor people taking public transportation. Its commuters who are sick of driving an hour to get to work and then paying to park their car on top of it. If Chicago closed its public transportation system it would be the poor screaming. It would be executives who have to move farther and farther out of town to afford a decent home. They would scream loud. The present day right wants to privatize everything, so the government doesn't have to pay for it. Here in Dallas most of the major highways are becoming toll roads.
I know people are paying 80-90 dollars a month just to get to their jobs. But if you ask them about raising Taxes that much they would scream bloody murder. and you will hear "I don't want to pay Taxes so people can take the train…I drive everywhere. The list of I don't want to pay…….is endless….unless of course its something they are using. We have become a very self centered society. If you live in huge cities it simply cost a LOT to keep that city alive. Taxes pay for the things that make your city vibrant and alive. But no one wants to pay more….not even to keep teachers. Without taxes our republic would simply die. Mass transit isn't just for poor people. And if you have listened to many one the right they want the Fed to be so small it will fut in a bathtub. I have heard it and I am sure you have too.

7:14PM PST on Dec 10, 2012

Robert H- how is anyone starving the federal govt? And definitely has a lot to do w/over-population. If we had half the people, we wouldn't be half as concerned about global warming/green sloutions, nor would we have half as many people needing to get from point A to point B. The more you have, the more you overwhelm our roads- the more you NEED public trans. If you have larger families, you more than likely don't have the extra income to have multiple cars needed to get that famly everywhere it needs to go. So- public trans again. This is not a rant against poor people either- but it is true that poorer segments of society are more overpoulated- it's been that way for a long time too... "The bottom line is that public transportation should remain public." No, the bottom line is how to pay for it... At the same time, we need to throw the greedy out by the nape of their necks so they can't find ways to profit off systems that are here to benefit everyone. Public transit provides jobs. But there's always someone furher up the food chain finding ways to manipulate everyone else's $ into their own pockets... If I'm missing something, I'd sincerely love to hear it. No insults, no "in your faces," just honest discussion. I can appreciate that & see your post as a positive one- I hope mine does not come across as sarcastic or rude, as I meant it sincerely.

11:24AM PST on Dec 10, 2012

Robby Public transportation has been with us a LONG time. It would cut down on pollution of more people used it. THe REAL problem with it is that it is payed for with Taxes. The right is trying to starve the federal government so the Fed has to starve the state,Thats why the prices are going up. When cities get big like NY Chicago Dallas Houston mass transit becomes more necessary. SO yet gonna either pay the feds are have much higher state taxes. Teachers create the same problem. No one wants to pay higher taxes, not even for good things. Its got very little to do with over population… has to do with cities that have a ton of jobs but not convenient to where you live. People collect in certain areas.

This is all about starving the federal government. Thats where the problem originates.

1:10AM PST on Dec 10, 2012

Shan- it all starts w/over-breeding. Our probs in the US often stem from over-breeding in other countries & being stupid enough to allow illegals to stay while making it so difficult for people to become legal citizens. Our big need for public trans only exists b/c we have too many people. W/out so many, we'd have a much smaller percentage of homeless, impoverished, etc. Re-read the past 20 posts or so & you'll see how public trans is working out- it's increasing in price while it SHOULD be decreasing, in such an economy, but it's obviously lining pockets. I think it's great to have public trans in some cities. I think it SHOULD be cheaper for those who need it. The very title of this story shows the absurdity- I mean, if you can't afford poublic transit, take your own car...? I do applaud your decision not to reproduce. I too (at just over a decade younger) have made that same decision. I will not bring children into such a sick world. Still, I don't see how myself, or anyone else here, including God, is "begrudging" you a "bus ride." If anything, I think my first post showed I'd prefer you get one, if you need it.

12:32AM PST on Dec 10, 2012

Robby C.: You asked where the people were coming from. I should think you'd know that by your age. So don't presume to lecture *me* on overpopulation. I knew the "facts of life" at a much younger age than you, evidently... certainly young enough to avoid a ridiculous post on a comment board.

And don't lecture me on overpopulation for another reason: I'm 49 years old, never married, and never had kids. I never *wanted* kids, and made that decision in my early 20s. So I'm not only not adding to the planet's human population, I'm also not passing along the defective genes I've inherited from my mother's side of the family. This means I've prevented a lot of otherwise-existing descendants from suffering the maladies that my family has had to up to this generation, and these now-nonexistent people will not be any burden to the planet whatsoever.

You may say "thank you" at any time...

And since I made this decision to benefit the human race, I trust that NOBODY here on Care2 will begrudge me a goddamn bus ride.

10:48PM PST on Dec 9, 2012

Shan D- I already stated it... too much breeding. Still, anyone who can't afford to ride public transit generally can't afford their own car- that's a separate issue. Another separate issue would be the MANY cities that don't have public transit, don't want it, & sure as hell don't need it (to the tune of billions of $ for a bunch of greedy politicians, corporations, & unions). Some cities have made it work well, in the past. But not for the future. As soon as mankind finds ways to profit pennies, they'll look for ways to make nickels... FIGHT- keep your cars, don't buy electric, carpooling only helps so much, screw EDR's, OBD 3, 4, etc... Ya wanna help? Get to the source of the problem- overpopulation. Educate, decrease our rate of poluation growth, & stop breeding incentives.

3:28AM PST on Dec 9, 2012

@Robby C.: Have you looked in your neighbor's cabbage patch? Or maybe the stork brought them?

Sheesh, somebody your age who doesn't know where babies come from!

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