On the Benefits of Public Transportation

Katrina vanden Heuvel for The Nation, on how public transit improves lives:

According to the American Public Transportation Association, Americans are using public transportation more today than at any other time since 1956. Public transit provided 10.7 billion individual rides last year, a 1.1 percent increase over 2012 and the latest uptick for an industry that has seen a 37.2 percent increase in ridership since 1995. This is something to crow about.

[…]

We need to continue to fund and promote public transportation. As Secretary Foxx pointed out in his March on Washington reflection, “[U]nfortunately, transportation also has a history of dividing us. In many places, railroads have served to identify people who were living on ‘the wrong side of the tracks.’ And rarely in the last century did an urban interstate highway plow through a neighborhood that wasn’t characterized as poor.”

We can use public transportation to mitigate inequality, to improve the environment, to develop technologically and economically; it puts more of us on the right side of the tracks. Let’s keep this trend going.

I link to this piece having just returned home from San Francisco by way of MUNI and BART. Were it not for public transportation — not to mention the kindness of family and friends — I’d not get around nearly as well as I do. As a non-driver, public transit is an essential part of my livelihood, and I’m grateful that the Bay Area has so many great (and convenient) options from which to choose.