As cities become more crowded and cars increasingly fill streets and highways, many people believe that municipalities need to work harder to promote the use of public transit such as buses, trains, and subways. In many cases, though, the cost of doing this is too high or the public interest is too low.
What can local governments do to make public transportation more attractive to residents?
How can they fund these public transportation systems?
Provide detailed reasons and examples to support your answer.
Recent studies suggest that roughly 80% of the world’s population now live in cities, leading to overcrowding and congested roads. However, in most places people still prefer driving to using public transit. To change this situation, city officials can employ various options to encourage residents to commute by bus, train, or other means, the most effective being to impose taxes on drivers, which would also finance the public transportation system.
By imposing tolls on certain roads municipalities can kill two birds with one stone: the number of cars on these roads will drop while simultaneously generating revenues to support the city’s public transit infrastructure. To illustrate, if a fee is applied to the use of a main thoroughfare, many people will likely opt to travel this route by bus as the cost of doing so will be far less than the combined cost of the toll, gas, and even time wasted in idle traffic. At the same time, the fees collected from those who continue to use these roads, especially commercial vehicles, can provide the authorities the capital to purchase more buses, build more roads, or invest in other ways.
One such way might be a campaign to educate the public about environmental risks posed by vehicle emissions. This may move some people to take responsibility and mitigate this danger by minimizing their driving. The campaign may also be structured to raise awareness that public transportation is a convenient and comfortable way to commute to work. If people were convinced that a train ride actually provides them more freedom than their cars, they might be more inclined to use it. Thus, again, road traffic would be reduced, and revenues from fares would help maintain the system.
In summary, a government can alter its city’s traffic situation by simply shifting public views; people will likely choose to use public transit if they realize it is more affordable and convenient. In the long run, this shift will pay for itself.