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More people would use public transportation if it were cheaper

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  • More people would use public transportation if it were cheaper

    We're about 2.5 hours outside of Chicago. We decided to take a one-night trip up at the end of this month and I was thinking it would be fun/different if we took a bus or a train since we'll be staying downtown and we won't really need our car while we're there.

    For 3 of us (DH + 3-y-o DD), its $170 to take the train (this doesn't factor in gas for the hour drive to the train station) and for the bus its $166 even using the discounted overnight rides. Even when factoring in gas, tolls and parking, its far less expensive to just drive ourselves. I find this really disappointing, and I really think more people would use the mass transit options if they were more affordable

  • #2
    Agreed. When I lived in the DC area, taking public transport was only marginally cheaper and, depending, on the day of questionable convenience.

    Had to drive to the train station, pay for parking, pay for the train and buses.

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    • #3
      So true.

      The primary reason I don't use public transportation is because it is too expensive here. & since it is not very good, it is extraordinarily inconvenient.

      I have actually been running numbers again (as I have done many times in the past), because my spouse's car is 11 years old and we have talked about not replacing this car when it dies. I honestly think it is cheaper to buy a car. Mind you, another car in the $5k-$10k range. (Obviously not a $30,000 vehicle). The cheaper the car, the cheaper the insurance and taxes. & this is for a car that is barely even driven!! Which is why we have considered dropping it. I just don't think we would save any money in the end.

      I made the same conclusion when I lived and worked by the light rail. IT cost more than gas, repairs, maintenance to ride the light rail 10 miles roundtrip for commuting. & if we want to visit our family 100 miles away on a train, it is something ridiculous like $120 for all of us. Versus $20 gas, roundtrip.

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      • #4
        Public transportation works well in places like Europe where the population centers are crowded. But here in the States the population tends to be more spread out. Public transportation can only serve the people located in the crowded city areas. People in the suburbs tend to have limited service or no service at all. It makes it expensive. Here in Pittsburgh our public transportation provider has recently cut routes and raised fairs. So, for more money you get less service. There are rumblings of privatizing at least some of the routes, but the city union is fighting it tooth in nail.
        Brian

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        • #5
          Originally posted by MonkeyMama View Post
          it is extraordinarily inconvenient.
          This is why I don't use public transit. I live 8 miles from my office. With public transit, it would probably take me an hour if I'm lucky vs. 15 minutes by car. I'd need to walk a couple of blocks to the bus stop, wait for a bus, ride on it as it stops at nearly every corner, then have to transfer to another bus (after waiting for that) to get to my office. Actually, an hour is probably overly optimistic.

          Now there are times when I do use public transit - when I'm in NYC, Washington, DC or Boston, we have used it for sure. It is affordable and efficient. I also use it at home when traveling into center city Philadelphia. The train is close to my house, parking is free and I save the cost of bridge tolls, gas and parking. If just 2 of us are going, it comes out a bit cheaper. If 3 or more of us are going, driving is cheaper. It just depends.
          Steve

          * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
          * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
          * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

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          • #6
            I'm intrigued by the input of those in bigger cities who still find it to be inconvenient or even expensive. I've used public transporation in a lot of big cities (NYC, Chicago, Portland) and find it extraordinarily convenient...but maybe that's just in comparison to what I'm used to? I suppose it also helps that I'm usually staying in teh downtown areas of those cities, not commuting to outlying cities.

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            • #7
              For me it's not so much the expense, it is more about the convenience. If you have to do any transfers it can darn near double the amount of time it takes to get somewhere. I would love to take the Amtrak more places but it takes so long to get somewhere that it is not worth it. I would pay an upcharge to be able to sit and relax, sleep, or get some work done on the train. To me it would be much more enjoyable than driving or riding in a car. But until more people start using public transportation, there will be no motivation to make it more convenient. Yet, until it is more convenient, people will shy away from it. It's a vicious circle!
              Last edited by jeffrey; 12-17-2011, 05:54 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by riverwed070707 View Post
                We're about 2.5 hours outside of Chicago. We decided to take a one-night trip up at the end of this month and I was thinking it would be fun/different if we took a bus or a train since we'll be staying downtown and we won't really need our car while we're there.

                For 3 of us (DH + 3-y-o DD), its $170 to take the train (this doesn't factor in gas for the hour drive to the train station) and for the bus its $166 even using the discounted overnight rides. Even when factoring in gas, tolls and parking, its far less expensive to just drive ourselves. I find this really disappointing, and I really think more people would use the mass transit options if they were more affordable
                Ha! I am from Peoria. My parents are always trying to figure out if they should take the bus up to Chicago when they fly out of Midway to visit me or to visit my brother and sister-in-law (who live in the Chicago suburbs) and the answer is always a resounding 'NO' because of the cost. Too funny that we just had this conversation this morning!

                Anyway, my opinion on mass transit is that it would become cost effective if more people used it. But, until then... they have to keep the transit options running somehow. Living in Denver the mass transit options here are not great, even living in the city. The light rail only serves a certain corridor of the metro area (that I don't live in, of course) and the bus system, while robust and good, is pretty costly. I attended a conference downtown and took the bus for a week. The cost was $22.50 and there is no way I would've spent that in gas considering I live a mere 4 miles out of the city. However, my neighbors buy a bus pass that is probably a bit more cost effective. Then again, what price do we put on inconvienience?
                Last edited by Gina23; 12-07-2011, 11:38 AM. Reason: I can't spell

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                • #9
                  That is quite strange.

                  Here in Europe in most places public transport (bus or train) in urban areas is extremely cheaper than driving a car. Most cities even offer interchangeable tickets that last 60-90 minutes in which you can change between any type of transport.

                  But then again gas is a lot more expensive here, so perhaps it evens out.

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                  • #10
                    But in Europe even the smaller areas have great public transport. It's not cheap, but it's probably a shade cheaper than driving and a lot more convenient. I live in a small city and during the summer I hop a bus out of town 15 minutes to what looks like the middle of nowhere. A five minute walk across sheep pastures gets me to an awesome swimming hole. The trip costsme
                    5 dollars round trip or if I time it right I can take the free 'nature' bus which only runs 4 time a day

                    Those who live outside of town can order a taxi bus, a bus you book to come to your farm, for regular local fare.

                    We use public transport even ifit takes a little longer because you can relax on the train Ina way you cannot while driving

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                    • #11
                      Weren't American cities built to facilitate the automobile and the auto industry generally? Wasn't there a historical saying...What's good for General Motors is good for the USA? Tax dollars were spent on building highways and freeways, not subway systems.

                      When we lived in Toronto, we bought a house in the suburbs based on reasonable access to public transit/subway system. It took 1:15 in good weather to drive to work but there was no/none parking available. The subway took less than 30 minutes even with a change to another line and with a monthly pass, significantly cheaper than a car commute. In our current city parking is so expensive we generally drive to the light rail stn. and take public transit to major events or anything downtown. Leaving a game or concert is mayhem but we consider it part of the affair.

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                      • #12
                        Public transportation in Cleveland is CHEAP. For a few bucks, I can get an all day bus pass for about $5. However, I do not use the buses. I can get anywhere in the city faster in my car, and really do not have to worry about paying for parking (except for downtown which I rarely go. I also prefer to use my car so that I am not at the mercy of the bus schedule.

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                        • #13
                          Good transit where we live but honestly it's not great for outlying areas. It's great in the city, but outside it's not worth it. Vanpools/carpools are much more useful.
                          LivingAlmostLarge Blog

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                          • #14
                            The entreprenuer in me just wants to say, "it's not the goal to maximize users, it's to maximize profits."

                            If I were running the public transportation system like any good business, it'd probably price some people out. You target those who get the most benefit. Some people won't get as much benefit and won't buy.


                            But count me as one who doesn't get enough benefit for the dollars. I drive

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                            • #15
                              If we are visiting any place as a solo traveler then the public transport would be better than taking personal transport. Because it can be available on cheapest rates as well as we can get a company if we would wish to have it. I have traveled single only for my business meetings but that time I had an official transport so never got a chance to travel by public transport for long journey.

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