I would say time. Whether it be by bus or train, taking public transportation can add 20-45 min to your commute time. With that said, in my opinion, the fact that public transportation reduces congestion, pollution, and creates jobs outweighs the small issue of personal time.
One of the major drawbacks is the initial costs to put in the infrastructure necessary–this doesn’t so much apply to buses, but more so to raily systems.
Also in order for public transportation to function well, it requires a certain density of housing and a certain common sense to urban planning. Having these characteristics as part of our cities is not a drawback at all, but rather they are a benefit that aren’t always incorporated into urband design. So, there are many cities, particularly in the south, where ubran sprawl is so severe that public transportation simply doesn’t work economically.
The efficiency. Per trip, public transportation passengers only need two stops: the pick-up and drop-off. In between those, there is inevitably several stops that that particular passenger does not need and only slow down his/her transit. In some places, there is also a route taken by the bus that wouldn’t make sense even to Daedalus himself. Together, these factors make each passenger’s trip much longer than it would be in a car or taxi, but in my experience, in urban areas, there’s no faster way to travel than by bike, unless you have a helicopter of course.
Safety. Homeless people, drug addicts, gang members. You can encounter some pretty scary stuff on those things. I remember back in Chicago, there was god solid month were every time I got on the L, someone was asking for money or something like that.
In my experience, the unreliability of public transportation can be a problem. This might not be true of some cities, but where I live buses are often very late and subway trains sometimes have to stop in between stations and wait because the metro system isn’t coordinated efficiently. This means that even if it is theoretically faster to take public transportation, the reality is that it takes longer.
I agree with all of the above posts. Time is a huge factor — I have spent hours waiting for my bus to arrive when I could’ve taken a car instead. Many people, including me, have felt unsafe on a bus at some point. I would feel better if their was some law enforcement presence on buses. Cost is also a factor for many people.
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