Road to Progress

Why is the United States so behind in public transportation?


Juliette Fournier

In California, cars are not an option to get from place to place.

Juliette Fournier, Photojournalist

Public transportation has become prevalent in much of Europe and Asia as a result of high-speed trains, buses, Metro links, and subways. Yet in the United States, one of the most technologically advanced nations of the world, there is very little public transportation other than in the big cities. Places like Yorba Linda have very few ways to travel around, other than by car. Why? Would it not be so much easier to have a bus, train, or subway in the smaller, widespread areas? There are some reasons that these advances are not happening but why they would be so beneficial to the Yorba Linda community.

Suburban areas in the United States are made up of large homes, often times with a garden for each house and a nearby park. Unlike Europe, the homes are much more spread out rather than being clustered together. This leads to a population density that is extremely low compared to Asian or European countries. As a result, even adding a train to go from one city to another would still be difficult to accommodate the suburbs. Since the houses are so far apart, distances are increased and would necessitate some other form of transportation like a taxi or car. In the end, it would just take up more space than necessary. The transportation just would not be worth the cost.

The lack of public transportation is also partially due to the American culture as well. When people come to America, they come in search for grand homes with a nice garden. It can also be viewed as risky since most of America’s public transportation consists of a “feeble network of buses and subways”  which is why “only the poorest and most desperate (e.g. those who can’t afford cars) actually use them” (Truthout News). Many people distrust buses or trains since the majority of the people riding the trains are not the nicest of people.

On the other hand, public transportation could be safer and more convenient in suburban areas. Teens throughout Yorba Linda know the struggle of either needing a ride or paying for an overpriced taxis. Walking is definitely not the best option due to the aforementioned “spread-out” community. Would it not be nice to finally be able to go to the movies without being dependent on a parent or a friend? Or to go to Brea Mall, even if lack the necessary transportation? This would be a benefit of public transportation. If there were more buses spread throughout Yorba Linda, traveling for teens would be much more convenient. Fiona Hsu (11) agrees that  “we need more public transportation like buses. In some Asian and European countries, they have metro and trains to allow people to travel in an efficient way.” Fiona also notes that it would “obviously reduce air pollution” which would benefit our nation considering its effects on climate change. Adding more transportation methods would also limit the amount of student drivers and the number of car crashes since less teens would need to drive. It has been proven that car crashes for teen drivers that are between 16 and 19 years old are “2.7 times” more likely than for “drivers of all ages” (State of CaliforniaDMV). The main issue is safety when debating public transport. Safety is the most essential factor to consider, over even convenience or economic benefit.

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