Monday, January 16, 2006

The sorry state of public transportation in the US

It never ceases to amaze me how pathetic public transportation is in this country. I live in Philadelphia, the 5th biggest city in the country. It's an old, northeastern city and has an extensive public transportation. You would think it would affordable and reliable.

You would be wrong.

For the first time since moving back home, I took the train into town the other day. Not only did it cost a whopping $6.75 to go 20 minutes, but the train was late both ways! On the way into town, it was 9 minutes late, and then it was 5 minutes late on the way back. Terrible. And today I took it again, and again it was late. Three out of my four trips, it has been late. Hmm.

Now call me snobby, but I can't help but think back to my semester abroad in Berlin, Germany. Not only was the public transportation there cleaner, cheaper, and far more efficient, but the
trains ran on time! What a concept.

I can vividly remembering the tram actually coming early on many mornings. The usual 9 minute delays of SEPTA were unheard of. The system wasn't perfect, but it was head and shoulders above any system in the U.S. I was reminded by this the second I stepped off my plane from Germany in Philadelphia. The train was over 10 minutes late, naturally.

Now I could complain until the cows come home, but that's not what this is about. This is about solutions. And there's a simple solution: stop wasting money on funding wasteful projects for the Defense Department, and put that money into public transportation. Stop giving every corporation under the sun tax breaks. Repeal the ridiculous Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

This country has more than enough money to have efficient public transporation systems in our largest cities. We have so much pride in our country. Shouldn't we be able to have public transportation that works?