Why hasn't public transportation caught on in America as it has done in Europe?
To a greater extent than Europeans, Americans are in love with their cars and SUVs. Any American politician, who advocated higher petrol taxes on a par with those of the Western-European countries, would be laughed out of office.
That's unfortunate. The public transportation systems in Western Europe are excellent, because people there respond to the economic incentives created by their petrol taxes. And they understand the rationales behind energy policy 'sin' taxes.
The simple answer is urban sprawl. Public transportation is widely used in New York, Washington D.C. and several other areas. In my city, my house is about 1 mile as the road goes and not as the crow flies, from the nearest major artery. There is no place to park a car and leave it while I take the bus to work.
I think it is more a issue of geography and desire. We have a bus system, it is under utilized and little public support for a tax to subsidize. However, for the poor and those who cannot drive, it is a lifeline.
Also, I agree with Larry Fields. We love our cars. But many cities are designed in such a way that walking to the grocery store is not practical, especially when the pharmacy is two miles in the other direction.
American cities are, for the most part, not designed for mass transit. Mass transit can work if you live in the suburbs and work in the city, but if you are live in one suburb and work in another, forget mass transit as an option.
My last job was a 32-mile one way commute. To use the bus would have required an hour and a half and four transfers. That is simply not realistic.
Even working in the city is no guarantee that mass transit will work for you. The job I had previous to that would have dropped me about a mile from work - also not realistic. Especially not in a Minnesota winter when it's 20 below with 20 mph winds.
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Do you use public transportation?
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