The differences between private and public transportation are significant and include funding, accessibility, and availability. Public transportation is funded, at least in part, through tax dollars while private transportation is established and funded through private enterprise. For travelers, choosing between private and public transportation often involves considering travel budgets, travel plans, and the safety of each option. In many cases, travelers may find that utilizing a combination of public transit and private options makes the most sense.
In many places, buses, trains, and even ferries are part of a public transportation system. While users may need to pay to use these options, passenger fares are greatly subsidized by tax dollars. Public transportation is generally organized to benefit the public good, and its services are necessarily limited by the amount of revenue it receives. As such, in many areas public transportation operates only during certain hours and days, and there may be many areas in which public transportation is not available. If a traveler is trying to decide between using private and public transportation, he or she will need to consider whether public transportation operates in the area where he or she wishes to visit.
Private transportation, on the other hand, is typically operated by private, for-profit business. As these businesses are generally not subsidized by the government, passengers must usually pay higher prices to use these services. One very common form of private transportation is a taxicab, although there are also shared passenger transportation companies that operate minivan shuttle services in certain areas, particularly to and from airports. From travelers' perspectives, using private transportation services is often a matter of convenience, as it is possible to hire these services during hours and on days in which public transportation does not operate. Taxi cabs, in particular, can often access areas in which there are no bus routes or train tracks.
Another distinction between private and public transportation is that passengers on public transportation typically must share their space with large groups of strangers, while users of private transportation may often choose to be alone or with their own party in a vehicle. For some people, privacy and transportation don't matter much, although safety may be a concern. As public transportation typically involves picking up and dropping off passengers along a preset route, it is important for travelers to recognize that public transportation often requires more travel time than private transportation. If time is of the essence during a particular trip, private transportation may be a better option.