Public Transit: Why the Government Should Prioritize Its Improvement

America is known to have poor public transportation. So most people must learn to drive and own vehicles to get around. As of 2017, 90 percent of American households have at least one car, and 64 percent of car owners drive every day, according to Gallup.

Public transit is not a priority in the U.S., even though it’s a problem. While it’s true that the government deals with several issues, they should sneak public transportation into their priority list. And that’s not only because it’s what Americans want. Investing in public transportation has many long-term benefits to the U.S. economy, the environment, and the public.

Lower Carbon Emissions

Transportation is one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. This is not surprising given that 76 percent of Americans drive alone every day.

But it’s also true that transportation involves more than just personal travel. For instance, petroleum hauling involves a lot of long-distance travel. Both small and large businesses need to deliver their products by land and air.

Still, if the government invests in developing better public transportation, civilians won’t need to drive all the time. A well-implemented public transit system will encourage people to commute instead of driving around. And in the long term, the reduced number of vehicles on the road will mean less pollution and fewer carbon emissions, which will benefit the environment. 

Address Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion is a common problem in the U.S., especially in big cities. Because of it, many people waste their time on the road instead of doing something more productive (e.g., work) or getting some rest. Also, hectic traffic can lead to tardiness at work and arriving late for important appointments, leading to other personal problems.

If the U.S. has a better public transportation system, more people will choose to commute based on convenience. They can also save money by commuting instead of driving, especially if they’re only traveling a short distance.

With fewer cars on roads, they will be more spacious. Vehicles can sail smoothly through the roads and have a shorter travel time. This allows individuals to become more efficient throughout the day.

Reduce Vehicle-related Accidents

Millions of car accidents occur annually. In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 38,680 people died from motor vehicle crashes. While some car crashes are truly just accidents, many of them happen because of irresponsible drivers. They may be distracted or driving under the influence. With so many vehicular accidents, roads are unsafe. This problem can be addressed by public transportation.

Some studies have shown that roads are safer in cities with strong public transit systems. Individuals are less likely to be injured when they take the bus instead of driving. Commuting means people don’t have to drive when they’re sleepy, drunk, or distracted.

Help Citizens Save Money

Car payments and fuel costs make up most of an average family’s monthly budget. And if the car gets damaged unexpectedly, the family might have a hard time having it repaired due to the additional expenses.

Thus, the government should invest in providing better public transportation modes for citizens so that they can save money. A two-person household can save up to $10,000 annually by commuting instead of driving. With this much-reduced cost, a family can focus on saving money to reach financial security and live more comfortably. They can also spend the money on buying essentials and other goods, which benefits the economy.

Indirectly Help Citizens Become Healthier

People need to maintain good physical health. Unfortunately, not everyone has the motivation to exercise consistently. This sedentary lifestyle is further exacerbated by driving to and from places instead of commuting.

Having a personal vehicle is indeed very convenient. Especially during the pandemic, using one’s own vehicle will help the person maintain a safe physical distance from other people while on the road, compared to commuters. A personal vehicle also allows an individual to get to places at any time of the day.

But in terms of health, driving is not always the best option. If the government works on creating a strong public transit system, they indirectly help citizens exercise since they need to walk from point A to point B. They can also use the walking time and commuting time to relax and unwind.

Modifying the current transportation system will take a long time. Just the planning will take a long time, especially given the scale of the project. Thus, the government must consider prioritizing it. With a better transportation system, the U.S. will have a safer and happier population.