Making public transportation efficient and affordable is key to getting more people to use it. In large cities like New York or London very few people have cars because they simply are not convenient. Public transportation in these places is faster and cheaper than driving one’s own vehicle. Unfortunately, though public transportation continues to improve, this is just not the case in many smaller towns who may not have reliable alternatives to cars. This makes improvements to public transportation in these areas very important. The more convenient and well run public transportation systems are the more people will opt to use them.
Another problem with mass transit is safety. When I was in Chicago we did a study and almost 90% of woman surveyed they had been sexually harassed while on the L. Also you have to deal with homeless, pan-handlers, and gangs. Many people feel the safety cost outweighs the financial burden of a car.
Raise the price of unleaded gasoline
The other commenters have all made good suggestions as to ways to convince the public to ditch their automobiling ways for cleaner ways to get around. Raising gas prices, improving efficiency and safety, and making transit affordable are all keys to public acceptance of mass transit. I will add one correction to a common misconception: while riding transit does present its own safety risks, statistically speaking, it is no more dangerous than riding in an automobile, especially at high speeds. See the first link below for some data to play with regarding highway fatalities, compare the numbers to the safety track record of major U.S. rail operators.
I will add another component of a more automobile-free world: the walkable community. Cities and towns with a vital core of activity at the center will attract more human interest as well as walkers and bikers than will a six-lane strip mall. See below for a study to address these questions: it’s not just about how you get there, but also about where you’re going in the first place that affects the flow of traffic.
Another solution is to have zero-fare public transportation. Many country/cities already have a zero-fare program in place. The benefits of zero-fare system are: an increase in passengers, in one town “13 times higher”,reduced operation cost since ticket machines no longer have to be emptied/maintained, a free way to have a green commute, faster loading times (since passengers no longer have to pay at boarding), and since more people would ride the bus streets would be less congested.
I only live in Dallas, but people get mugged here too. However, I have never had a problem on public transportation. Typically, if you don’t act like you have alot of money or expensive stuff and keep to yourself then no one bothers you, after all everyone else is trying to get somewhere; not mug someone. Unfortunately, women still are harassed fairly frequently; I have seen it myself and spoken with friends about it (nothing like rape of course).
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