Thursday, May 11, 2006

"H-Prize" Announced

I could not bear to let this comment go unpublished. I noticed this on Slashdot by a user named Tx, and it summed up many of my own thoughts about the insuficiencies of public transportation. I rather suspect most people advocating a major emphasis on public transportation are those who already live in cities.

"H-Prize" Announced: "I have to disagree about public transport. Here in the UK, we already have massive taxation on fuel. Tony Blair's government came in with grand plans to channel funds into the public transport infrastructure, and vastly increase the number of people using it. The plan was an utter failure, and was abandoned after a several years. (OK, so we're not talking *free* public transport, but affordable, and as far as free goes, I think you need to do some math on that).

Why did it fail? There are areas where public transport is convenient - intra-urban commuters primarily - but in most such cases the public transport system is already there and utilized almost as heavily as it can be. Meanwhile for everyone else - those commuting between suburbs/outlying areas and cities - in many cases there is just no way public transport can be made attractive. For example at my previous job, I had an easy 30 minute commute by car. Public transport took 90 minutes, and cost three times as much. You couldn't really improve that much, you can only have so many stations, and you can only run your busses and trains so often. Even if you made it free, the extra hour makes it unviable. Not to talk of losing the ability to stop of at a shopping center on the way home, or run errands in my lunch break.

Since the USA has more of a car culture than the UK, I'm sure there are improvements to be made, but it is fantasy to believe that public transport is the transportation panacea that some make it out to be. Public transport has it's place, but the convenience and freedom that comes with personal transportation is not something many people want to part with, and nor should they in my opinion." emphasis added

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