What's good about transit?

With all this negative coverage about poor service, it’s easy to forget what we’re fighting for. Why do people need transit? Why do people use transit?

Here’s an article from National Express Transit (an American blog) on the 9 BENEFITS OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Smart Cities Dive goes one further with The Top 10 Benefits of Public Transportation

In Canada, The Star published Public transit benefits everyone — even those who don’t use it with an emphasis on the health benefits of public transit.


For those who don’t want to read the articles, I’ll summarize the benefits:

  1. Transit provides freedom for people who do not drive. Teens, seniors, persons with disabilities, people who do not own a car, people who do not have driver’s licenses …
  2. Transit is cheaper than driving. Even if you own a car, parking fees are considerably more expensive than transit fares.
  3. Transit is astonishingly efficient. It is estimated that each bus removes 30 cars from the road. Imagine the congestion in Ottawa if significant numbers of regular transit riders started driving instead. Or the competition for parking!
  4. Transit helps battle climate change. The single most effective thing that any individual can do to combat climate change is drive less – transit allows people the choice. Moving towards hybrid and electric buses is positive, but even regular diesel or gas-powered buses use less energy and emit fewer pollutants per rider than the equivalent number of cars would.
  5. Transit is cost effective. If climate change doesn’t motivate you, you’re probably fiscally conservative. Cities pay significant sums to build and maintain infrastructure for cars – roads, parking, enforcement, etc. Public money spent on transit improves the lives of more people and provides a better “bang-for-your-buck”

Why do I personally ride transit? I like being able to jump on and off a bus easily. I don’t like driving city streets or searching for parking. I certainly don’t like paying for parking. That 25 minutes that I spend riding the bus home from work is a kind of transition time for me – between the craziness of work and the chaos of home, I can spend a few minutes reading or playing Sudoku.

My teenage children ride the bus to work and to school and to visit friends – I no longer have to shuttle them around the city. And it’s cheaper. Our family can afford to have one car for all the things that are easier by car (hockey, camping, trips to Costco …), but we save money by biking or using transit the rest of the time.

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