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Public transit is a vital form of transportation in cities among other forms of transportation. Public transportation, as defined by Cambridge Dictionary in 2017, is a network of automobiles, including buses and railroads, that are used by the general public and run on set schedules. Due to poor management, public buses are frequently unreliable and inefficient in many places across the globe. Many people are choosing to travel in their own personal vehicles due to the lack of an effective public transportation system in cities and the rising per capita. The increase in the number of cars in cities only makes the more dysfunctional due the ever-rising congestion.
including commuter trains, buses, streetcars, subways, cable cars, trolleys and light rail. Presently, one of the favored public transportation systems is the bus rapid transit (BRT), or dedicated bus ways. BRT for example can accommodate significant passenger movement and are relatively affordable to build. Transmilenio, which is a BRT system in Colombia’s capital Bogota is one that has been widely studied as a public transportation system. Public transportation plays a very significant role and a city can promote the use of public transportation through good leadership, innovation and technology and through proper legislations.
Cities are faced with rapid population growth as one of the main challenges. Large population put strain on the roads due to rising number of private cars on the roads leading to traffic congestion. Congestion comes with a lot of other issues including people being stressed out which result in health-related complications and high risk of accidents. Therefore, the issues call for a solution and one of the solutions to this is encouraging the use of public transportation.
Decongestion. Public transportation reduces congestion and helps save on fuel. Research indicates that in the year 2011 in the U.S, the use of public transportation saved up to 865 million travel hours and up to 450 million gallons of fuel in 498 urban areas ("Public Transportation Benefits", 2017).
Personal opportunities and freedom. Public transportation increases personal opportunities since it offers mobility and freedom for people from all walks of life. It offers people movement options to various places including school, work, friends’ place, hospitals, parks etc. Apart from offering mobility options, public transportation provides employment opportunities.
Cost saving. Further, public transportation saves costs. It remains one of the most viable ways to beat the high fuel prices. It offers an affordable alternative to the private car owners. By using public transportation, car owners not only save the money they would have otherwise used on fuel but the money they would have used to maintain their cars and pay for parking fees.
Reduction in fuel consumption. Public transportation reduces fuel consumption cuts down fuel consumption and carbon footprint. In America, it is approximated that public transportation reduces carbon emissions by up to 37 million metric tons annually ("Public Transportation Benefits", 2017). Switching commute to public transportation can significantly help to reduce carbon emissions. In fact, electrically powered public transportation systems like trolleybuses and trams produce no emissions at all if powered by renewable electricity.
Economic opportunities. Public transportation offers economic opportunities and brings community growth and revitalization. Funds invested in public transportation eventually generate some economic returns and additionally sustains and creates employment opportunities. Capital investment made in public transportation has also been known to boost business sales and increase value of property like homes that are located near public transportation corridors ("Public Transportation Benefits", 2017).
Public transportation is significant for any city as elaborated earlier in this article. However, there are many people do not ride in them and instead use their personal cars and other means. Therefore, there is a need to come up with ways to get people to use public transportation. This can be tackled in three main areas which include innovation and technology, leadership and governance and society. It is only through bringing these three main factors together in a manner that commuters benefit that they may start to use public transportation.
Good leadership calls for leading by example. Therefore, to promote the use of public transportation, leaders should also use the same public transportation that they are pushing for. By having all the leaders use the public transportation, they will set an example to the rest. For example, Bogota’s mayor Luis Edwardo was on the forefront and led by example by taking a ride in the Transmilenio that he had been pushing for (Gilbert, 2014).Without doing so, the public will be hesitant to do the same since their leaders are reluctant to ride in what they are pushing for. The leaders may include the local government, the transit authorities, business association leaders, consumers’ representatives etc.
Public transportation has lots of benefits, as discussed earlier in this article. However, people need to be often shown these benefits otherwise, they may forget or maintain the other means of transportation other than public transit. City authorities can come up with ways to always remind people public transportation schedules. For example, the city of Bogota came up with a website where the public transportation that is regularly updated and information including decisions made regarding the system can be communicated to the people (Gilbert, 2014). They can also have printed items showing the facts of the transportation that are not widely known. This way, the commuters can use public transportation to enjoy these benefits.
In many countries, public transportation has often been associated with the low-income earners therefore, there is need for a change in attitude towards public transportation (Gilbert, 2014). Since public transportation is supposed to be used by people across the income levels, leaders need not to treat it like it's meant for the poor. The rich may not use public transport if all that is done in public transportation is done with the poor in mind. By treating all that is implemented in public transportation as meant for all, those who may be poor as per their standards are not reminded that they are poor.
To promote public transportation, cities need to think of it as a leader. To attract people, especially the car owners to use public transportation, need to make them attractive. If the commuter trains and buses are made to look like the cars by adding to the bus what the cars have then car owners can easily leave their cars to use the public transportation. They will offer a similar experience to that they get when they use their cars.
The available public transport should be made more comfortable and safer. There may be need to replace, but with appropriate technology, the existing public transport can be improved. Public transportation can be fitted with modern communication techniques at the stations. These can include screens to display the routes. Further, at the stations, modern ticketing systems can work well in promoting the use of the bus and commuter trains. Inside the waiting lounges and in the passenger cabins, screens can be mounted so that people can watch news, shows and other happenings around the city. These screens can also be used to remind the public on some of the benefits and decisions regarding the public transportation sector.
The world today is full of technology and gadgets such as smartphones, so many people own tablets and computers. The internet is one phenomenon that is widely appreciated by many people across the world. Therefore, to promote the use of public transportation, free wi-fi can be made available for the commuters. By making public transportation safe and comfortable commuters can enjoy using their gadgets making the commute interesting.
Public transport is often associated with overcrowding during the peak hours. In the morning and in the evening which are the rush hours public transportation may become too crowded and pose other risks. Therefore, cities should come up with ways that they are able to handle a large number of commuters during the rush hours. Public transportation schedules can be made so as to encourage people to travel more even during the off-peak hours so that overcrowding is reduced during the rush hours. Communicable diseases can be spread easily in public transport vehicles, especially when they are overcrowded. The sick, especially those suffering from communicable diseases should be kept at home or in the health facilities. This way, the fear of some car owners that they may contract a disease in the public transport systems can be mitigated.
Additionally, public transportation need to have proper and effective legislation that will bar unruly behavior that may disturb other passengers. Activities such as preaching in buses and hawking discourage some people from using public transportation. By having legislation forbidding things like hawking and eating certain foods also help in keeping the environment clean. Unattractive behavior like smoking while riding in the bus may make people uncomfortable, especially for the non-smokers since it exposes them to the side effects of smoking as the passive smokers (Gilbert, 2014). Most public transportation systems prohibit smoking but the punishment for those who against this differs widely across different countries.
Noise is unpleasant and in public transportation system it may discourage some people from using them. Therefore, to attract people to public transportation, cities should have proper legislation prohibiting noise while riding. For example, the Department for Transport in the United Kingdom has 2010 to 2015 Government Policy: Local Transport which spells out the legislations regarding public transportation among other things. The legislations seek to decongest public transportation to make them attractive to more people.
Cities need to look into ways through which they can promote the use of public transportation. It is important to promote the use of public transportation since it has numerous advantages. Public transportation plays a very significant role and a city can promote the use of public transportation through good leadership, innovation and technology and through proper legislations. There are many perspectives to how cities can promote the use of public transportation. Good leadership, creative innovation and technology and proper legislation can help cities effectively attract more people to public transportation since all aspects of public transportation are considered. However, there is need to research on how cities can promote walking and cycling within cities.
Public Transportation Benefits. (2017). Apta.com. Retrieved 23 January 2017, from http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/ptbenefits/Pages/default.aspx
Gilbert, A. (2014). Bus rapid transit: Is transmilenio a miracle or curse? London: Taylor and Francis.
Public transport Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. (2017). Dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved 23 January 2017, from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/public-transport
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