Should Governments further Fund Public Transportation?

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Today, it is commonly assumed that every person with a driver’s license owns a personal vehicle. However, in the United States alone, public transportation is used 35 million times on a common weekday (Facts). In China, there are near 170 million privately owned vehicles (China’s), compared to their population of over 1.3 billion. The term public transportation can refer to a bus, train, subway, ferry, or other means, that commonly involve a fare (Public). It is used more often than many assume and can be considered vital in the lives of those without their own form of transport.  Public transportation can work wonders for the economy. It provides careers, both directly and indirectly, at approximately 1.1 million jobs per year in the United States (Transit). It provides careers in the form of bus drivers, technicians, and coordinators. Also, it provides transportation to the workplaces for those who do not have access to their own car. The downside of taking a bus rather than a car is that it may limit the work schedules of these people. This is due to the time tables of the transportation. Often, there is also debate in whether public transportation is entirely safe, due to the locations of the stations, or the character of those using the transit or conducting the transport. This is where the controversy arises.  The annual spending on public transportation in 2014 was $416 billion in the United States (Facts), and 2.5 billion British pounds in the UK (Public Sector), or near $3.5 billion.

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Although these figures are already considerable, it can be argued that the government should increase funding. This would increase the quality of public transportation. To address this topic, the benefits and draw-backs of public transportation must be analyzed to informatively decide on whether the figure that is spent on public transportation is too much or too little.   Today, the environment is a growing concern in ways such as global warming or pollution, but many may argue that there is little being done to prevent the deterioration of the Earth. 28% of greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation in Canada (Greenhouse), and 14% globally (Global). In increasing funding for public transportation, it will decrease the use of individual vehicles, thus limiting the use of gasoline and the emissions coming from the cars. On average, heavy rail transit, such as trams or trains produce almost 80% less gas emissions than single occupancy vehicles (Transit). If governments were to increase the use of public transportation, air pollution could decrease at an exponential rate. An example of how transportation can affect the air is in China, where some of the worst traffic occurs, as a traffic jam once lasted ten days long. This is one direct cause of the air pollution in China, as it is home to sixteen of the dirtiest cities on the globe (Air). 


Not only would the environment benefit from the increase in public transport funding, but the economy as well. According to the American Public Transport Association, a nonprofit organization that promotes public transportation, every $1 used for public transport funding results in $4 back into the economy (Facts). When individual vehicles are not being bought as often and less money is being spent on gas, more money can be used instead on substantial infrastructure for communities, such as roads, utilities, or education (Transit). The APTA is a credible source as it has represented public transportation for over one hundred years. The members of the organization all specialize in transportation, whether it be building it or conducting it.  Providing more funding for public transportation would increase the quality of the transit and reduce any negative connotation that may be associated with the thought of taking the bus or a train, as some may associate public transport with lower income areas. More people would be using it to commute to work, school, or home, and, subsequently, traffic congestion would be reduced.


Minimizing traffic would lower the stress of those on the road as traffic is typically a high-tension situation, decrease the effect of cars on the environment, and lessen the amount spent on gasoline per person, which was $1,560 per year in 2017 in the United States (DiLallo).  The unemployment rate in the United Kingdom is 4.2% (How). With public transport more readily available, the unemployment rate could drop, which is typically desirable in many countries. If public transportation is further funded, the bus or train schedules would not have to be as restricted as they may be now, and public transit could further provide careers for hundreds of millions of people worldwide, whether it be a bus driver, a train conductor, or provide a shuttle to and from a workplace.  Despite common belief, public transportation frees up time for those using it. Rather than having to drive to and from work or school, someone else is driving for them, and therefore provides them excess time for other activities, such as studying or reading, while on the go. Not only does it free up time, but it also is linked to a healthier lifestyle, as people typically walk to and from their homes to bus stops or train stations. As well as this, public transportation may be safer than individually driving, as transit operators must go through training to be able to control the vehicle in which people may be taking. In the United States, bus accidents only account for .01% of transport related crashes compared to nearly three-quarters of highway fatalities resulting from single-vehicles (Kille).


Public transportation does a substantial amount of good and provides safe and effective means of travel.  In opposition to further funding public transportation, it could be argued that it would decrease the number of careers in a country. The number of traffic police, car manufacturers, and car salesmen could decrease as the need for individual cars would decrease. Many people worldwide would be out a job. With this, there is question to whether the increase in public transportation will help the economy or hurt it instead. Also, there is some question to if public transportation should become free, which could be detrimental to the economy if it were further funded. More money would be used to better the transportation, but there would be no direct economic returns.  The use of public transportation can increase the time that the average person must wait for commuting. The average time spent waiting on transportation in Great Britain is almost 43 minutes a month, where public transportation is more prevalent than it is in most countries (Britons).


Although they would be using this time for other activities, it could be spent at work or home instead.  If public transportation were to be further funded, the money must come from somewhere. This funding would have to come from increasing taxes or pulling funding from another cause, such as education or health care. If the money were to be coming from taxes of the people, it could cause an uproar from the public as those who do not need to use public transport will be forced to pay for it. The taxes that would be increased would include sales tax, property taxes, or gas taxes according to Christopher MacKechnie. If the funding was pulled from other programs, it could also be a cause of conflict, as, again, the taxpayers’ money would be going towards public transportation rather than being spent on something that the entire population could make use of. MacKechnie was a bus driver for ten years while completing his college degree. He later worked in an authoritative position at a major public transportation company in Los Angeles, which therefore verifies his credibility in the matter.  Further funding public transportation could be argued as unnecessary by many people. Public transport is often seen as unsanitary and even dangerous.


Further funding it may help with these problems, but they would not be entirely eliminated and the negative social stigma surrounding public transportation would most likely remain as funding could not alter opinions immediately, if ever. This means that, even if transportation were to be renovated, it is not guaranteed that it would have an increased use. The crimes committed on public transportation include, but are not limited to, theft, rape, or even homicide. When improving public transportation, it betters the infrastructure itself, but it cannot regulate criminals that may take the bus, therefore still limiting the amount of people using the transportation due to the fear that may be associated.  Commuting shorter distances through walking or cycling is much healthier than using public transportation. Typically, those that use private cars or public transportation tend to struggle with stress, exhaustion, and sleep quality over those who commute with physical exercise. (Page). If public transportation is not being used by those who are commuting shorter distance, that demonstrates that further funding the transport would be unnecessary to a great majority of people, and therefore make a very little positive impact on society.  After considering both sides of this issue, I feel that governments worldwide should increase their funding for public transportation. It is beneficial in many ways economically and environmentally through providing careers and reducing traffic congestion. The argument opposing further funding can be used in favor of both sides of the issue. Many of the points are theoretical, such as increase in funding may not increase use. Also, the negative views that are associated around public transportation are not widespread, therefor discarding this point. The careers that could be provided greatly outweigh those that would be taken away.


The traffic police may slightly decline, but it will not be a dramatic change for the career, as private cars will still be popular; public transportation will just be more commonly used. After analyzing these points, it can be concluded that no dramatic negative changes would occur if public transportation would be further funded. The points presented in support of further funding are based on facts, such as the economic benefit in the fact ?every $1 used in funding results in $4 back into the economy.’ The environment is one thing that a great majority of people agree should be maintained and taken care of. Public transportation can play a role in the bettering of the environment, further encouraging the need for further funding and encouragement for public transport.  If I were to further my research, I would learn more about the extent that public transportation can decrease gas emissions. Clearly public transportation would decrease the emissions, but it would be interesting to understand how far it would be beneficial and how. Also, it would be interesting to research the extent that traffic congestion would be reduce and what positive long-term effects that it would have

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Should Governments Further Fund Public Transportation?. (2019, Aug 12). Retrieved December 7, 2022 , from

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