The article written by Lester Detriot entitled “The Bus, a Modern Panacea” is an extremely informative and relevant piece of literature on the topic of public transportation in the modern world. Speaking specifically about San Jose University but clearly to a wider audience as well, the article’s advocacy towards public transportation is well researched and documented, in addition to raising many excellent points towards using the system more.
Detroit begins the article by calling to drivers to take active action in making a transition to using public transportation–citing students at the University need to “drop the car culture” and instead create one that revolves around the light rail. The specific points mentioned include cost-effectiveness, convenience, a decrease in traffic congestion, as well as oil use and pollution. Use of the light rail for San Jose University students who opt to use the light rail exclusively is actually made completely free with an EcoPass that allows for unlimited rides. Detroit states that time spent in traffic can be used productively on public transportation–whether to study, do homework, or to simply relax.
The earth’s natural resources have been experiencing massive exploitation ever since the introduction of the idealisms of industrialization. It cannot be denied that the process of advancement that several societies around the globe has embraced caused a huge impact on how the natural resources are being used up. When it comes to transportation, the major problem caused by the massive number of cars [both private and public] could be related to the rising rate of air pollution and the ailments that have been caused by such instances. In this case, the appreciation for the emergence of modern mass transit operations is highly given regard. As defined in the article, taking into consideration the aspect of traveling through mass transit could lower the number of private cars traveling on the road every day. With such rate of private cars remaining parked in the garage during regular days, it is expected that the lowered rate of pollution would be easier to accomplish.
Now speaking more broadly, Detroit touched on the implications on a larger scale of a higher reliance on public transportation, and how it can benefit the population at large. First of all, a decrease in the national oil consumption is a very valid point. Collectively, a higher reliance on public transportation would naturally reduce the use of expensive and precious fossil fuels. With the United States oil dependence so high on other countries, decreasing the overall consumption could do wonders for the overall economy. Simply by using the basic economic concept of supply and demand and its relation on inflation, it is clear that oil prices would go down significantly.
According to the Zonobi article, the EcoPasses in San Jose have gotten as many as 4700 cars off of the road in the last few years. This is a significant amount of cars using a significantly less amount of fossil fuels. In addition to the students taking advantage of the program, Zonobi goes on to mention the amount of staff members that have been able to take advantage of the program as well. Ironically, even with the economic savings, most students still maintained that preserving the environment was their number one reason for using the system (Zonobi, 2013).
On a broader scale however, this does not mean there are not a very large amount of financial benefits that promotes the use of public transportation. According to an article by Mantill Williams published in July of 2010, on average the individual can save $779 monthly. This can accumulate, as Williams explains, to over $9,000 a year. This is no small amount of money–this money saved could great impact the people living within the constraints of a more urban area. The article also cites another staggering figure–according to a 2009 Colliers study, the average yearly amount spent in parking per person is almost $2,000 (Williams, 2010).
To the contrary, Steven Dutch does make many valid points in his attempt to explain why is it people avoid using mass transit if they can. He cites that because people place another value in their decision–the value of their actual time–that public transportation can end up being more costly in many instances. This article, though bringing up a valid point in the intrinsic value people place on actual minutes and hours, and thus how a car can reduce travel time, is very far from bulletproof. The original prompt itself proves that this time spent in transit is only lost time if it is used as such. A train or bus ride affords one the opportunity to take the time to study, read, or prepare work and school materials. In this way it is very much up to the individual whether the time spent on public transportation is time wasted, or taken advantage of (Dutch, 2005).
The other major problem with the argument placed forth by Dutch against public transportation is that is it frankly dated. The price of a gallon of gas in July of 2005, when the article was published, compared to October 2013 is much different. The lower price of gas when the article was written makes the calculations he uses to compare a bus versus a bike versus a car for his commute contemporarily irrelevant. As the price of gas has gone up, the price gaps he cites have considerably closed, if not deteriorated altogether (Dutch, 2005).
An experiment described in an article by Los Angeles Daily News correspondent, in which she took public transit everywhere for thirty days, outlines nothing besides an inconvenience. She really speaks nothing about the cost effectiveness, environmental impact, or anything that is actually substantial. Citing that she feels she gained virtually no insight at all during her experience, this 2006 article honestly sounds like a princess wrote it (Garza, 2006). My personal experience with public transit from a social perspective is only positive–while driving one is secluded in their individual cars. This can be accomplished on mass transit with headphones. If one chooses to socialize, it is only to further their own human experience–fostering new relationships or friendships is easy on public transit, and probably healthy for social development.
Overall, it is clear that the use of public transportation moving forward is indeed cost effective, energy efficient, as well as more productive than using a car in many instances.
Dutch, Steven. “Why People Don’t Use Mass Transit.” University of Wisconsin, 27 July 2005. Web.
Garza, Mariel. “Bus Experiement Happily Now in Rear-view Mirror.” LA Daily News, 02 July 2006. Web.
Williams, Mantill. “Individuals Save $9,343 by Riding Public Transit Annually.” APTA, 08 July 2010. Web.
Zonobi, Eyedin. “Light Rail Is Important for San Jose State.” San Jose Mercury News, 30 Jan. 2013. Web.