Public transportation

It’ll be three years this fall since I sold my car. Living in cities since then, I’ve been able to get by comfortably initially with Zipcar, and more recently with a combination of Uber, subway, and frankly walking.

For traveling between most frequently visited cities like New York, Philadelphia, Washington, and State College it’s Megabus, NJ Transit, SEPTA, etc.

I hope to never own a car again, though if I do it’s my goal to make it a Tesla.

The experiences of the past few years have shaped by perspective somewhat on transportation infrastructure. I’ve always been in favor of improving what we call “public transportation,” but recently I’ve been thinking about how odd that term is.

When you look around at the landscape, look at the physical footprint of a rail line or underground subway or trolley or whatever. Compare that to the interstate highway system and roads in general. Which system occupies the greatest amount of physical space and indeed shapes our civic experience of our communities most definitively? Definitely our roads.

Our use of these things through “private transportation” like personal cars or even public buses is fundamentally more “public” in its impact than a subway because these things change our cultural and physical environments.

The public/private distinction doesn’t make any sense, basically. We need new words that accurately reflect the cost/impact/value of our transportation systems.

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