Whether it’s an 11 mile ride from my residence to work in New York City, or a 22 mile trip from the Oakland office to San Francisco Airport, or if it’s a 14 mile trip from the bus station to my friends place in Chicago, or a 7 mile ride from Virginia to Atlas Corps office, I know I will make it on time, it will not cost me much, and I will not be stressed, that too while being an ordinary member of the general public, but privileged enough to travel on the mass transit systems available in these four cities.
A Public transit system is as important to a metropolis as a spinal cord is to a human body. Though this comparison seems eccentric, however the officials and general public of many big cities across the world would definitely agree. As an exchange program visitor in the United States, I have experienced the efficacy of some well-planned mass transit systems consisting of trains, buses and ferries. Although not much thought is put in beyond the smooth, timely and less expensive transit provided by these systems, however a little insight reveals that these mass transit systems serve a lot more serves more than just travel.
A public transit system helps the economy by effectively reducing oil consumption in terms of vehicle fuel, cleanses the environment and provides for cleaner air to breathe through reduction in carbon emissions with lesser number of vehicles of the road, while contributes a great deal and eliminates common social stressors caused by traffic congestion. Moreover it generates a considerable amount of employment opportunities and paves way for greater economic activity around its coverage area.
As a temporary New York City resident, I dug out some figures presented by the city’s the Metropolitan Transport Authority revealing that the mass transit system on a regular weekday transports 8.7 million commuters, taking approximately over a million cars off the roads, reducing hundred thousand tons of carbon emissions, while helping thousands of less frantically charged human beings arrive at work early in the morning and entering their homes in the evening.
These systems do appeals to visitors from developing countries like me. It took my country over 60 years to develop a dedicated metropolitan transit system, and till date only two major cities in the country have these dedicated mass transit systems. Unavailability of such efficient public transport system brings along all the banes including large amounts of fuel consumption, increased traffic congestion, higher temperature levels, augmented air pollution and related diseases, while the number of casualties due to road accidents is continuously on the rise, especially during the rush hours. While at times the commuters many of them school/college going students end up risking their lives while travelling on the shoddy public transport available to them.
What is taken for granted in the first world is a rare luxury in the third world. As urbanization is on the rise, the major cities in Pakistan are in sheer need of these mass transit systems, and the civil society and citizen groups need to educate the society on the importance and benefits of these systems while also engaging the public representatives for provision of efficient mass transit systems.