Travelers visiting Europe almost inevitably comment upon arriving home about the availability of mass transit in these countries and how convenient it is to get around. While public transport in these places is a way of life, it is not in the U.S. We are a car-oriented society;…
Since decisions upon providing service are generally market driven, there is no public transit in these places, or they may be somewhat served by private companies with limited and expensive service. The rationale: not enough people will use it to make it profitable. Any suggested funding for public transport is always at the bottom of everyone’s budget list. The rationale there: we should not spend public money if the service is not used by a majority of the people. If this seems prejudicial, it is, since getting around is a necessity not a privilege. Unfortunately, too many people in the U.S., while admiring the wonderful benefits of the European mass transit systems when they travel, do not see themselves using such a system at home. And most assuredly they do not see themselves funding such a system with their tax money, as do European governments believing the service a crucial necessity for the people they govern. One might conclude that in Europe, good reliable mass transportation for everyone everywhere is considered a right rather than a privilege. It is not totally dependent upon the profit model.
The discussion of whether our own government should be running a system similar to Europe’s in the United States has been ongoing, and attempts, as in the case of California, to provide a seamless way for people to get around using mass transit have been sporadic. One online site states, “In most states, intercity passenger train service is provided solely by Amtrak, with no assistance of any sort from State or local governments” (History of Amtrak California, par. 1).
Using California as a case in point, The History of Amtrak California discusses how the state subsidizes its growing system with state and local money largely from the federal government. Its success over the years in promoting and funding a growing mass transportation system has proven quite successful, considering California’s notorious love affair with ...
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