Charles Lee

The worldwide economic decline has brought many governments to have to consider options to reduce public spending. The most frequently implemented policy is the reduction of the budget allowed for public transportation.

Public transportation has many cost, convenience and environmental advantages compared with private, most notably automobile transportation. With higher oil prices and finite resources at stake, public transportation brings a cost effective source of transportation to those who need it. Taking the bus instead of driving a car around is a money saving decision considering the insurance, maintenance, parking and fuel costs. The system is also convenient because less time and resources are spent on driving because public transportation runs on a regular schedule.

Here is the disheartening fact. With the country hard hit from the prolonged economic recession, the federal government has for a long time ignored the importance of a public transportation system. According to a report released by the Federal Transit Administration in June, it was estimated to cost $77.7 billion to rebuild the country’s transit system. The report also said actual reinvesting in public transit in 2008 was around $12 to $13 billion, which is far less than what is being required. This has brought a large number of public transportation companies to increase ticket prices and lower discounts for teenagers and children. 

This is a crushing blow to those living in urban cities who completely rely on public transportation as a part of their living. Those who do not have the luxury of being able to afford automobiles are people who are already experiencing economic trouble, meaning that it is most likely going to be affecting low-income families. With emerging suburbs around big cities, the movement from one place to another is essential and the government is not ensuring accessibility. 

The main reason for this budget deficit is because the government does not see the program as a main revenue stream due to decreasing ridership. During the recessionary period of 2008, the mass transit ridership rose 4 percent. Since then, the ridership has been continually decreasing by 2 to 3 percent every year. The ridership in 2008 rose because of high oil prices, but now that there is less fluctuation in oil prices, there is little incentive for people to use public transits. 

There are countries like Japan and Russia that have extensive transportation systems that in turn bring tremendous amounts of economic momentum to the economy. Strong government funding enabled systematic metros that are reliable, efficient and less time consuming. It also provides constant employment for the public. 

This is what the sinking U.S. economy needs. It needs to rebuild the medium between industry and commerce by creating fluidity between the two sectors. Updating the already old public railroads and buses will revitalize the economy by providing society with more jobs and spending. Once the system is rebuilt, it will not only start yielding profits, but also enhance sustainable living. The government should start using taxpayers’ money where everyone can benefit instead of salvaging already destitute corporations from mismanagement.

As a person who is a frequent public transportation customer back home and in Oxford, it is discouraging that there is little investment to this area. I hope to see more people using the bus to get around campus because it works and its dependable, although I would recommend several different routes and stops.