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What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Public Transportation?

Public transportation offers an eco-friendly, cost-effective travel option, reducing carbon footprints and congestion. However, it can be less flexible and sometimes overcrowded. Balancing these factors is key to a sustainable commute. How does public transit shape your daily life? Share your experiences and join the conversation on the future of urban mobility.
Kaiser Castro
Kaiser Castro

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.

Using public transportation may help reduce pollution.
Using public transportation may help reduce pollution.

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.

Car emissions contribute to air pollution.
Car emissions contribute to air pollution.

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.

Most public transportation buses are handicapped accessible.
Most public transportation buses are handicapped accessible.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main advantages of using public transportation?

Trains as a form of public transportation are helpful because they are open to everyone and great for people on a budget.
Trains as a form of public transportation are helpful because they are open to everyone and great for people on a budget.

Public transportation offers numerous benefits, including cost savings compared to owning and maintaining a private vehicle. It also reduces traffic congestion and lowers greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a cleaner environment. According to the American Public Transportation Association, public transit in the United States saves approximately 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. Moreover, it can provide a safer mode of travel, as the National Safety Council reports that riding a bus is 170 times safer than traveling by car.

How does public transportation impact the environment?

Rail travel eliminates the need for locating parking in an urban area.
Rail travel eliminates the need for locating parking in an urban area.

Public transportation significantly benefits the environment by reducing the number of individual vehicles on the road, which in turn lowers carbon emissions and pollutants. The Federal Transit Administration notes that transit can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45 million metric tons annually. Additionally, many public transit systems are moving towards cleaner technologies, such as electric or hybrid buses, further diminishing their environmental footprint.

What are the disadvantages of using public transportation?

Despite its benefits, public transportation can have drawbacks, such as limited service areas and schedules that may not align with every user's needs. Overcrowding and delays can also affect the reliability and comfort of the journey. Furthermore, public transit systems may face underfunding, leading to less frequent service and older, less efficient vehicles.

Is public transportation cost-effective for daily commuters?

For daily commuters, public transportation can be highly cost-effective. Owning a car involves expenses like insurance, fuel, maintenance, and parking fees, which can add up significantly. The American Public Transportation Association estimates that individuals can save over $10,000 per year by using public transit instead of driving. This makes it an economical choice for many, especially in urban areas with well-developed transit networks.

Can public transportation improve public health?

Yes, public transportation can improve public health. By reducing the number of cars on the road, it lowers air pollution, which can decrease respiratory problems and other pollution-related health issues. Additionally, using public transit often involves walking to and from stops or stations, which can contribute to increased physical activity and associated health benefits for individuals.

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Discussion Comments

burcinc

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.

bear78

@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.

donasmrs

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.

Ruggercat68

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.

Buster29

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.

Rundocuri

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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    • Using public transportation may help reduce pollution.
      By: auremar
      Using public transportation may help reduce pollution.
    • Car emissions contribute to air pollution.
      By: rob245
      Car emissions contribute to air pollution.
    • Most public transportation buses are handicapped accessible.
      By: Yuri Bizgaimer
      Most public transportation buses are handicapped accessible.
    • Trains as a form of public transportation are helpful because they are open to everyone and great for people on a budget.
      By: Pink Badger
      Trains as a form of public transportation are helpful because they are open to everyone and great for people on a budget.
    • Rail travel eliminates the need for locating parking in an urban area.
      By: Sailorr
      Rail travel eliminates the need for locating parking in an urban area.