Lately I’ve found myself envying other countries for how much they seem more assembled than the United States.
Countries like New Zealand and Taiwan for the way they have handled the COVID-19 pandemic.
Countries like Germany, France and Norway to provide affordable higher education.
Literally any country that has universal health care, a good minimum wage, and more paid parental leave and paid vacation than the United States.
More often than ever, I wish the United States had more accessible public transportation, not only in big cities like Chicago and New York, but throughout the United States.
I envy countries that have access to high-speed public transportation, especially when I have to make the long trip between the East and my hometown, driving for hours on the highways and past cornfields.
In the United States, it’s nearly impossible to get around without a car, and all of this driving creates a system that leaves out those who depend on public transportation.
I wish the United States would fund more public transportation, not just for me, but because it would greatly benefit the country as a whole.
According to a 2009 report by the United States Public Interest Research Group, commonly abbreviated as US PIRG, public transit helps reduce congestion.
Traffic jams are a growing problem in the United States, wasting time and fuel. According to the US PIRG report, “the average commuter in the United States, the annual overtime lost due to traffic delays has decreased from 14 hours in 1982 to 38 hours in 2005”.
This has hardly improved in recent years. In a report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, researchers determined that the average American commuter spent 54 overtime hours a year in traffic delays.
Better access to public transit would also help reduce pollution by preventing automobile emissions.
Air pollution is a major environmental health problem not only in the United States, but around the world. According to the EPA, places with poor air quality can have serious repercussions on the health of people in the area, such as increased cases of pneumonia, cancer and other illnesses.
Since public transport produces much less air pollutants like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, increased use of public transport can help reduce air pollution.
Using public transportation also results in fewer auto-related injuries and fatalities.
According to a 2016 study by the American Public Transit Association, public transport trips are 10 times safer per kilometer than trips by car. The study notes that “a person can reduce their risk of being involved in an accident by more than 90% simply by taking public transport rather than traveling by car”.
And there are many other benefits of using public transportation over driving. The point is, public transit has so many benefits that we need to start funding it better and encouraging its use.
Transit is not perfect, of course, but if the United States spent the time and money on improving it, it could be a lot better.
Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]