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What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Public Transportation?

By Kaiser Castro
Updated May 23, 2024
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Public transportation usually consists of a network of trains, buses, and other modes of travel that are open to the general public. Using public transportation is usually very relevant in urban settings, where a car may have a difficult time maneuvering in the heavy traffic typical of large cities. Some typical benefits include universal accessibility for most citizens in the city, the absence of car maintenance fees, and being able to lower a community’s pollution. Some of the drawbacks, however, include congested trains and buses, and erratic arrival and departure schedules.

There are many modes of public transportation that can make traveling to distinct parts of the city accessible. A positive is that most modes of transportation are available to anyone, regardless of any physical disabilities that prevents him or her from operating a vehicle. Most city trains and buses are wheelchair accessible. A downside is that the trains and buses can get very congested during peak hours, which can create a claustrophobic environment for some.

Trains are open to everyone who can pay the fare, which is especially helpful for those on a budget, including students and teens using public transportation. Even if the trains can get people to their destinations, most individuals will have to plan their day in accordance with the train's schedule. When a train or bus arrives at a station or makes many stops along the way, the traveler's time can be negatively impacted.

Owning and operating a car has been connected to large, exuberant fees that can quickly add up. Parking fees, insurance, and gas money can quickly eat up a bank account. Another positive of using public transportation is that most trains and buses have comprehensive plans, allowing people to save money on rides. Households that use public transportation on a normal basis will be able to accumulate savings every year.

Leaving the car behind and using public transportation has been known to reduce pollution as well. Public modes of transportation are known to reduce smog-producing pollution and greenhouse gases, as well as preserve ecologically-sensitive land. Smog, smoke, and air pollution also contribute to global warming. Some modern trains use electricity as their main power source, creating very little by-product that can damage the environment.

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Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Dec 14, 2014

I've never had issues with public transportation. I've never had to wait for too long and it always reaches on time. I wonder if some of the issues people are having with transportation have to do with the local transportation system or roads?

I think that for most people, public transportation works out great. Plus, it's much cheaper than driving and it leaves a smaller footprint in the environment. When less people drive, we pollute the world less. This is a huge long-term advantage that many people don't consider. If everyone in the world drove a car, we wouldn't have any fresh air to breathe. And of course, we'd run out of petrol too.

By bear78 — On Dec 13, 2014

@Ruggercat68-- This reminds me of the time I stayed on campus during winter holidays. I took a campus bus to go grocery shopping. It was evening, it was cold and there was snow everywhere. I waited and waited at the bus stop for more than an hour and the bus never came. I must have checked the wrong schedule. Thankfully, someone was kind enough to drop me off at campus. I don't know what I would have done otherwise.

By donasmrs — On Dec 13, 2014

I've been using public transportation for years. The greatest benefit I've experienced is that you don't have to look for parking. The greatest disadvantage is that sometimes it's not on time or it doesn't run as frequently on weekends.

Of course, it also depends on the type of transportation. The metro (or subway as some prefer to call it) is better. It's fast and it's usually on time. Buses are more problematic, especially in the Washington D.C. area. They're not always on time and they take too long. I remember once, it took more than twenty minutes to get somewhere that I could have reached in five minute by car.

By Ruggercat68 — On Dec 12, 2014

I grew up in a college town that had its own fleet of buses for campus transportation. If I happened to be near the campus, the ride was free. I only had to pay a fare if the bus route went out of town. If I decided I wanted to go grocery shopping after spending time downtown, I could just hop on a bus and make the right transfers in a "free" zone.

The biggest problem I had was having to wait for certain long-distance bus routes that only ran every hour or so. I had to make sure I was back at the stop for the last run back home.

By Buster29 — On Dec 11, 2014

One of the advantages of using public transportation where I live (northeast Ohio) is that I don't have to drive my own car during bad winter snowstorms. I'd rather let professional drivers handle those conditions. I just wish some of the bus stops were closer to my final destinations. I have to walk about 300 yards in the snow to reach my office building if I take the bus.

By Rundocuri — On Feb 27, 2014

I love driving my car, but I also enjoy the many benefits of using public transportation. I especially like the money that I save on gas, and that I don't have to hassle trying to find a parking place when I take the transit instead of driving my own car.

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