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What Are the Different Types of Public Transportation Services?

R. Stamm
R. Stamm

There are several different forms of public transportation services available to transport citizens from one location to another whether it is within the city limits or over greater distances. Like buses, various forms of train systems provide either short- or long-distance travel for passengers. Airplanes are a suitable choice for persons wishing to travel longer distances over land or sea at greater speeds. Public transportation can include any means of transportation a person shares with other members of the general public.

Ships are one of the earliest forms of public transport services and carry passengers from one continent to another. Early wooden ships, powered by sails, evolved into the great cruise liners of today. With the invention of airplanes, ships are used for more recreational purposes such as vacations or holidays. The speed of airplanes makes travel over longer distances more practical, and passengers are able to arrive at their destination within hours or days rather than the weeks it takes to travel by ship.

Various forms of train systems provide public transportation.
Various forms of train systems provide public transportation.

The industrial revolution brought about the invention of trains as a form of public transportation services. Train tracks cover the length of entire countries and transport passengers from one end to the other. Cities constructed trolleys or electric street car systems for citizens and visitors to travel around. This led to the invention of the mass transit systems of subways, which run below the city through tunnels. Some cities have an elevated train system which runs above city streets on an elevated track.

Motor coaches can transport people across long distances.
Motor coaches can transport people across long distances.

Buses became an prominent category of public transportation services after the invention of the automobile. Buses transport school children to and from school and are used for the general public as transportation throughout cities. Some cities supply double-decker buses, a bus with seating on a lower and upper level, for tourist or general use. Motor coaches are more luxurious than a typical bus and are capable of transporting individuals over longer distances. Another benefit of a motor coach is it is less expensive than taking an airplane.

Buses are one of the most common types of public transportation.
Buses are one of the most common types of public transportation.

Governments and manufactures work closely to make modern public transportation services faster and more efficient. Public transportation is better for the environment and reduces carbon emissions in the air by cutting down on the amount of drivers on the road. It also benefits individuals and families through transportation savings on fuel, automobile insurance, and the cost of vehicles. Cities who build effective public transit system create jobs for citizens.

Discussion Comments


My family recently took a trip to Orlando, and we didn't even need to rent a car while we were there.

Once we got to the airport, we were able to use public transportation to get everywhere we needed to be.

Between shuttles that took us to our motel, and buses that transported us to the attractions we wanted to see, it was a stress free vacation.

I don't like renting a car and driving in a place I am unfamiliar with. By using the public transportation that was available, this eliminated all those worries.

If I didn't know which bus to get on, or where it was going, I found that everyone was very helpful. If I had any doubt at all, I would always ask as soon as I got on the bus so I didn't end up at the wrong place.


If I had to rely on public transportation to get where I needed to be, I would be in sad shape.

Even though I live in a mid-sized city that has public bus transportation, it is pretty limited.

You pretty much need to live within a few miles of the downtown area in order to take advantage of this.

I really don't know how many people use this system, as every time I see a bus go by, there are hardly ever any people riding it.

I can see where this could save someone money on gas and not driving when the weather was bad, but it isn't very handy for a large group of people in my community.


When my son spent a summer in Chicago, he didn't have a car and completely relied on the public transportation system. None of his roommates had cars either, so this was their only way of getting around.

This is easy to do when you live in a big city like this. It is usually the quickest and cheapest way to get around. Parking in a city like that is at a premium - if you can even find a place to park.

There are bus routes and train stations all over the place. He lived in downtown Chicago and was only a few blocks from the train station. The worst thing about this was how noisy it was 24 hours a day.

When he came home after a few months, his first comment was how nice it was to breathe fresh air, and how quiet it was.


@alisha - Believe it or not, some big cities now have bike sharing programs as part of their public transport services (although I guess they're not quite "public" since they're run by private companies). Now, unlike in Japan, the biggest problem was that the bikes kept getting stolen. So they had to develop really, really good locks and racks for keeping them in place.

I think the way it works is that for a monthly registration fee, you have the right to "rent" the bikes on an hourly basis. You pick up the bike at whatever location is most convenient for you and return it when you're done. They're interesting-looking bikes, almost industrial. They have to be tough!

I think the idea for bike sharing was inspired by the success of car sharing services like ZipCar. In big cities like DC, where you can get around most of the time with Metro but sometimes you want a car to pick up a big load of groceries, car sharing caught on as a way to rent cars hourly and more quickly and easily than from places like Hertz that rent by the day. They actually have several kinds of cars. Want a pickup to get a dresser you bought on Craigslist? No problem.


I really enjoy riding trolleys when I visit historical towns and cities. I know that it is more of a tourist attraction now in most places than an actual form of transportation.

But trolleys actually work really well and will get me across town at a nice pace that gives me a chance to see what's around me.


I think that public transportation is not as widely used in the US as it is in other countries. I grew up in the Midwest and we always used our personal cars to get around. There was a public bus transportation service, but that was only because there was a university in our city. In fact, the university owned the bus system and it was mainly used by students to go from the campus to downtown.

I have a friend from Japan and I've asked her about transportation there. She told me that she used to ride a bike from her home to the metro station to go to work. And on her way back, she would again pick up a bike to go home. The bikes didn't belong to her! Apparently, in Japan, bikes are part of the public transportation system and people just pick one up to get where they need to go and leave it there. And no one steals them!

I think this is so cool! But it would never work here because Japan is a small island and the culture is very different.


I think that the subway trains, or the metro as it is called in some places, is the best type of public transportation. I do wish it was more widely available in the United States. It's mainly used in big cities like New York and Washington D.C.

I know that the subway requires more investment to make, but it's much faster, cheaper and easier to use than other kinds of public transportation services like buses or taxis. I've used public buses as well, and it was so frustrating because the bus schedule was not predictable and the bus never seemed to arrive on time.

I used a subway when I was in Washington D.C. and it was so easy to travel around the city with it. It even had lines going into Maryland and Virginia so you can basically get anywhere you want with the subway.

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    • Various forms of train systems provide public transportation.
      By: Richard J Thompson
      Various forms of train systems provide public transportation.
    • Motor coaches can transport people across long distances.
      By: Robert Wilson
      Motor coaches can transport people across long distances.
    • Buses are one of the most common types of public transportation.
      By: Yuri Bizgaimer
      Buses are one of the most common types of public transportation.
    • Subway and metro trains typically operate underground.
      By: Moreno Novello
      Subway and metro trains typically operate underground.
    • Commuter rail trains are most often used to link the suburbs to the city.
      By: Sailorr
      Commuter rail trains are most often used to link the suburbs to the city.