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Relieving the Rush Through Public Transportation

In most big cities, “rush hour” is a misnomer- there is hardly any rush during any hour. Driving bumper to bumper has become a standard procedure during any time of the day: morning, afternoon, evening, lunch time, tea time…chances are your commute mph will be turtle paced. And who is to blame? Is it the fact that with over 250 million cars registered in the US, there is almost one car per every American? Is our imprudent purchasing power actually perpetuating our own problems? Maybe, but there is more to the congestion conundrum than American consumerism.

A July 15, 2009, article from the Wall Street Journal¸ details how traffic jams are also fueled by poor construction decisions that create back-ups in residential areas. Lack of government spending in cities that suffer brutal congestion such as Los Angeles and Washington D.C. has also been an issue. The article mentions that Congress allocates transportation throughout a variety of districts, instead of focusing on a few ‘bad’ areas.

So far, the possible solutions lead to no where. If the government spends more money expanding roads, they are only encouraging driving, and in essence re-creating congestion. But if nothing gets done, the jams continue and so do the headaches.

Although expansion seems like the most viable solution, there is another one: changing attitudes. If Americans weren’t as attached to their cars as 4 year-olds were their ‘blankies’, a good portion of the problem would be solved. It seems like we believe we would literally be stranded without our vehicles, incapable of even making it to the neighbor’s house around the block.Lo and behold, there are alternative methods of transportation. Consider: the bus, train, or a bike. Even carpooling reduces the number of vehicles and emissions on the roads.

And there is some promising news out there. It seems like slowly, more Americans are catching on to this ‘alternative’ phenomenon: According to a report by the American Public Transportation Association, between 1995 and 2008, ridership with public transportation increased by 38%.

This increased participation not only reduces fuel emissions, the savings in gasoline, car maintenance, insurances, and other expenses really add up: you can save about $9,000 annually just by taking public transportation. That coupled with the money saved on headache medication, calls for some major savings. These savings can be applied to repair the stress damage caused by past traffic jams. Margaritas, anyone?


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