Public Transportation, Again
I wasn’t going to blog about this.
But the more I thought about it, the more I was disturbed.
“This” is an article by John Semmens on why fuel hikes won’t spur public transit. And, to a certain extent, he’s correct on the headline. I mean, if gas goes up $0.50 per gallon, we’re not likely to go hopping on the busses for our morning commute.
Anyway, here’s the wrap-up to his thinking:
“Why are Americans continuing to forgo public transportation? There are several reasons:
• Americans like the freedom to come and go as they please, on their own schedules.
• Americans also value their time. Public transportation is slow compared with auto travel. The typical trip takes twice as long as driving a car.
• Many Americans – even those with limited budgets – are making a conscious choice: They’re willing to pay extra for the convenience and time savings associated with autos. They can cut back elsewhere.
The hope that rising gasoline prices or increased gasoline taxes will substantially increase public transportation use is unrealistic. Far from being disparaged as an “energy waster,” the automobile should be hailed for its ability to save our most precious resource: time.“
What I really enjoy is that this guy has a job that describes him as a “research fellow” at the Independent Institute. While I have no idea what he really does with his days, he might want to rub some elbows with normal folks and get out of the library.
So, let me clue you in, John, on why I’m not using public transportation:
Currently, where I live, the system hasn’t arrived fully yet. Sure, I could take the “Red Line” from the Denton County Transportation Authority and then tie-in with DCTA Connect to get me to the downtown Dallas central station…but the nearest stop is almost 2 miles from my home, and service doesn’t begin until 9:34AM and service stops at 5:34PM. So, if I were working downtown I couldn’t get to work on time. Now, plans are to ramp up that transit service…but today it doesn’t do too much for me. And, like we could use it to get our kids to practice/school/jobs/etc.?
Secondly, public transportation is slow compared to auto travel? Really? I have no idea what world you live in, John, but have you ever taken I-35E South after 3PM on a weekday, trying to maybe connect with I-20? Ever tried I-635 any direction, anytime after 3PM? Ever been on Central Expressway at peak times? These virtual parking lots that move approximately 15 m.p.h. on their best days aren’t exactly speedy, my friend. And even busses use the HOV lanes so they are zipping right along. And if you’ve ever hopped on a train after a sporting event at a big arena you save worlds of time.
Which leads me to my third point: If you say that a car allows for us to save “our most precious resource” (and I’d propose water, air, fossil fuels, forests and several other resources are more valuable to us and future generations than “time”)…again, how’s sitting in the Mixmaster or High Five working out for you as valuable time? Even in the suburbs, how are those SUV soccer moms using that “precious” time? Granted, you might chat with your kids and they might use it for homework or the like, but you could do that on the bus. Besides, I see an awful lot of DVD players being used around town and cell phones being chatted into as well. Anything you could do in a car you could do on a bus or train…and it you’ve ever been to Europe you’d see that folks chat on the train platform with friends. They laugh. They read books. They use that added time for all sorts of things.
Finally, speaking of time, did you ever bother to factor in how much time we spend per year waiting in lines for our auto tags, or in the mechanic shop for the oil change, or the car wash place, or the vehicle inspection center? Or the cost savings if we did none of those things?
So, John Semmens, research fellow at the Independent Institute, before I get all excited and “hail the automobile for it’s ability to save time”…why don’t I bring up again that the main reason people don’t avail themselves to public transportation has more to do with selfishness and lack of availability (or inability to deliver in a practical sense) than anything else.
And I’m not even a research fellow anywhere.