U.S Public Transportation System in Urban Areas
Public transportation is a mode of transit through which passengers share a common transportation service to move from one destination to another. Public transportation therefore does not rely on private arrangement. Instead, members of public report in designated areas through which they can access various transit services. The different modes and services applied in public transportation systems include buses, taxicabs, trains, trolley buses, ferries, commercial airplanes, coaches, and rails among others. Some public transport systems operate based on timed schedules, such as taxicabs, airlines, trains, and high speed rails. The rest transit services, especially buses and coaches wait until passengers have filled up before commencing the journey. A Para transit mode of transport is mainly utilized by members of the public from areas with a low population. Thus, Para transits can provide transportation services on door to door basis across neighborhoods and communities that are sparsely populated (Vincent, 2007).
Modes of public transport relying on scheduled timetables are mainly found in urban areas. This is because they are developed to earn revenues and profits while providing transit services to urban populations under work schedules. Urban modes of public transportations can be either privately or publicly owned. Publicly owned modes of transport are managed and controlled by municipal councils under the transit authorities. The passengers are required to pay transportation fees based on the distance travelled. However, a flat rate is often charged by the government through federal, municipal, and State agencies as tax revenues (Vincent, 2007).
The Development of Public Transport in United States
Public modes of transport in the United States mainly involve road, air, and water. Passengers across various urban States rely on automobiles in order to transit across short distances. However, they rely on air and water to travel longer distances. Thus, the following modes of transport applicable for public means have existed in the United States for decades. They include airplanes, trains, boats, trucks, ships, and rails. In order to develop a public mode of transport, it is important to determine speed, distance, and transport fees (CS, 2006).
In the 18th century, the United States utilized horses, water, and road as the major mode of transportation. The populations in the country mainly relied on coastal waters, especially the Atlantic Coast to navigate across harbors. This was attributed by the low number of populations recorded in the country. However, as the population increased, the government accounted for rapid cost increases in relation to transportation expenses. The government budget was tasked with providing sufficient revenues to develop and improve modes of transport to reduce congestion and traffic. As a result, the government gathered revenues and allocated them towards the development of highways. This mode of transport was aligned to the government’s goals in providing affordable and speedy transit modes. Consequently, canals were also constructed to facilitate movement of goods across industries and markets. Thus, the United States government developed public highways and canals, improved road conditions to enhance accessibility, and expanded the transit services navigating across waters between 18th and 19th century (CS, 2006).
After the civil war, the country embraced industrialization. Consequently, the transcontinental rail systems were developed and expanded serving industries in various States and cities. Railroads competed with road as increasing populations also led to the buildup of traffic leading to congestion. This further increased transportation costs that the government had to pay from the limited revenues collected from taxes. The government had to establish modes of transport that were economically efficient to move goods across markets and transit people across various destinations. As a result, a large urban rail line was developed in the 20th century. More so, the Lincoln, interstate, and national highways were developed, improved, and expanded easing transportation across the United States. The airline industry was also expanded in order to provide commercial air transit services to members of the public. As innovation and technology advanced, jets were discovered increasing capacities and transit services provided in the airline transport systems. With these developments and expansions, the country recorded decreasing expenses and costs utilized in managing the public transport systems across States and cities (CS, 2006).
Between 1960s and 1970s, the government transferred ownership and management operations of major public transport systems to State, federal, and municipal agencies. Currently, the agencies continue to strive in ensuring the public transport services are economical, accessible, affordable, and profitable. For example, the Greyhound Lines were developed to reduce the costs of running a public mode of transport among continental areas in the United States. These transit services are accessible and affordable. They provide transportation services across long distances while reducing congestion and traffic buildups in major urban cities in the country. The federal, municipal, and State agencies also restricted trucks to provision of commercial transportation services. They transport raw materials and finished goods from industries to retailer and wholesaler markets as well as consumers (CS, 2006).
Public Transportation versus Tax Amounts
The United States has recorded different and diverse changes in public transport modes and services. The changes are formulated and implemented aimed at enhancing accessibility and affordability of transport services among members of the public. They also aim at reducing transportation costs among commercial entities and persons navigating short and long distances across urban areas in the country. However, these changes require resources and revenues for the implementation process to be effective and efficient. As a result, the government has had to increase the amount of federal taxes paid by citizens. This is aimed at collecting more revenues to be allocated in developing, improving, and/or expanding public transport systems in the country. The American Mass Public Transport System is managed and controlled by the State, municipal, and federal agencies. These agencies provide financial and technical resources to offer, regulate, and fund public transportation services in urban areas. Thus, citizens ought to pay federal tax in order to support the public transport services provided through highways, roads, rails, and air (Litman, 1999).
In 2008, the Saving Energy Public Transportation Act was passed by the house of Congress. It is tasked with providing financial resources to authorities and agencies operating, managing, and controlling public transportation systems in the United States. This act was therefore formulated and implemented to reduce transportation costs incurred by members of the public. It proposed several measures directly aligned to reduction of transportation costs. The first proposal involved the provision of transit passes and fringe benefits from the National Capital Region transit programs through federal agencies. Secondly, it was proposed that the local governments acquire alternative modes of transport applicable, accessible, and affordable to members of the public. However, the acquisitions were restricted due to limited financial resources within the federal agencies managing transportation services. More importantly, the act proposed an increase in federal revenues collected through federal taxes. The increased taxes would be utilized to build subways and expand parking facilities to reduce congestion while increasing transport efficiencies (Agrawal, 2013).
A survey was conducted among the Americans seeking to acquire their opinions on increasing the amount of federal taxes they pay. The survey emphasized that the increased amounts aimed at improving revenues required by federal transportation agencies. The survey findings revealed that most members of the public support the increase in federal taxes. However, members of the public asserted the increases should be utilized efficiently and efficiently towards improving and expanding public transportation services. More so, the increase in federal taxes should be accompanied by a reduction in other taxes mainly gas tax (Agrawal, 2013). Thus, members of the public support the idea of increasing federal taxes. However, the revenues collected from the federal taxes should be utilized efficiently towards improving services within the public transport sector (Garland &Edward, 2001).
Public Transportation Systems and Crime Rates in Urban Areas
Public transportation impacts the country socially, economically, environmentally, and politically. The green movement conducted a research on public transport systems, population densities, environmental impacts, and social changes. The results indicated that population densities in urban areas increase as public transport services improve and expand. This however translates to an increase in environmental degradation. Harmful gases, such as carbon, fossil fuels, methane, and monoxide emitted into the air pollute the environment. However, public transportation systems have had huge impacts on social changes in urban areas in relation to crime rates (John, 2006).
Majority of Americans associate public transport systems with criminals, illegal guns, alcoholics, and addicts to drugs and substances. Thus, public transportation does not guarantee passengers of their safeties as they transit across urban States and cities. The National Highway Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts conducted a research on public transport systems and passenger safeties. The statistics and findings were compiled and discussed together with the Federal Highway Administration and American Public Transportation Association. The findings indicated that railroads are more vulnerable to criminal activities. More so, the passengers in major public transit systems are at risk of fatal accidents and crashes. It was also revealed that public safeties are further reduced due to lack of light rails along transit modes. Thus, passengers are vulnerable to urban crimes, including assaults, murder, robbery, and rape. The rates of crime were rated higher among passengers using railroads than those using trucks, buses, and coaches (TCRP, 2008).
Major public transport systems also increase crime rates against public and private properties. This is because public transportation is mainly applied to transit properties stolen from private or public residences. More so, taxicabs can be conveniently hired to transit criminals seeking to undertake illegal activities, such as arson, burglary, murder, rape, and larceny. Thus, public transportation is conveniently utilized by criminals to prey on innocent passengers and access victims of robbery (John, 2006).
Public transportation in the United States is convenient, easily accessible, affordable, and reliable. However, a passenger in urban areas ought to respect the scheduled timetables utilized across major public transit services. Federal, municipal, and State public transport agencies should ensure that, increase in taxes translates to effective and efficient public transit services. More so, they should ensure passengers are safe and protected from crimes, such as murder, rape, theft, and other violent criminal activities. Thus, the Americans are in a dire need of safe, effective, and efficient public transport services rather than the amount of taxes they pay towards municipal, federal, and State revenues. Ultimately, public transportation systems are crucial for the growth and development of social, economic, political, and environmental aspects within the United States.
Agrawal, A. W. (2013). What Do Americans Think About Federal Tax Options to Support Public Transit, Highways, and Local Streets and Roads? Results from Year Four of a National Survey, United States Public Transportation System Research Report.
Caltrans Services (CS). (2006). Interstate Highway System Turns Fifty, U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Garland, C., & Edward, F. (2001). Business, Financial, and Total Risk in Air Transport: A Comparison to Other Industry Groups, Transportation Quarterly, 57(4), 149-156.
John, S. (2006). How Public Transit Undermines Safety: Automobile Travel Is Safer Than We Think, Foundation for Economic Education Report.
Litman, T. (1999). The Costs of Automobile Dependency and the Benefits of Balanced Transport, Victoria Public Policy Institute.
Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP). (2008). Synthesis 21: Improving Transit Security, Washington, D.C.: Transportation Research Board.
Vincent, K. (2007). Public-Private Partnerships in Transportation, Sacramento, CA, Western Political Science Association.