By NYLU AVERY BERNSHTAYN, age 9
Every day, people get on the subway or the bus, or jump on a bicycle from a public bike sharing program to get to work or school. According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Americans want to have more public transit services in their communities, and the annual ridership is the highest it has been since 1956.
There are many benefits to using public transportation. According to the Federal Transit Administration, using public transportation reduces energy consumption, greenhouse gases and other pollutants. A single commuter switching to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10 to 30 percent. APTA reports that 1.1 million jobs are created or sustained each year because of public transportation, and a household can save more than $9,700 by using it.
Although there are social and environmental benefits to using public transportation, not everyone has access to public transit systems. This affects public health and access to jobs, childcare, housing, medical care and education. For some, access to public transportation affects their ability to hold a job. “That’s the thing that hurts me the most, having experience and qualifications, but you can’t get to the destination,” said Lebron Stinson, an unemployed former truck driver in Chattanooga, TN.
The city of Detroit has lost about half of its bus service since 2005 due to severe budget cuts. According to the Transportation Riders United, a rider advocacy group, wait times have been getting longer for many of the 110,000 daily passengers who depend on the buses there. “I’m hurting,” said George Jones, 57 and a regular Detroit bus rider. “A lot of times they don’t come around, and when they do, they just pass you by.”