Public transport in some cities is not seen positively especially in car-dominated countries. Although most cities in the world are still dependent on cars and automobiles, there are a few cities such as London and New York where public transport is also taken by the well-off instead of private vehicles. Various developing countries like India are investing a lot in metros in the past decade and most metropolitan cities are building better public transport especially through the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS). But still, in most of the places, public transport is not used widely as the middle-class population mostly travel by automobiles and cars. Although car-pooling through Uber and similar apps is emerging, they are not widely used as yet and people prefer to have their own vehicle.
Cities which overcame the obsession with private vehicles
Throughout history having one’s own vehicle has been more prestigious in cities than riding by bus or train. It is seen as a sign of wealth and this is not necessarily a good mindset and also not very sustainable for our cities. As the mayor of Bogota, Enrique Penalosa, in the book, Happy Cities states “a developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it’s where the rich ride public transport.” This quote rings true to today’s society and the ongoing change in people’s mindset to use more public transport. Most people don’t use public transport as it is poorly managed and not seen as been effective enough as private transport.
This should be a message for politicians and people in town planning to improve the quality of public transport in their cities because unless it comes down from the root level, the mindset of people will not change. Penalosa in Bogota is an example of a politician who has drastically changed the city of Bogota to become more sustainable and healthy by providing people with more public transport via an excellent bus system and by promoting people to use more bicycles and other sustainable methods of transport including walking in public spaces. Using public transportation is shown to be more effective in research because people save more money and it can even create a community and communication with strangers when you see people regularly traveling with you.
Even within Asia, many countries have prospered by improving public transportation and allowing people to travel effectively. Some of these cities are Singapore and Tokyo, which are cities among the best public transport and are ranked as high as cities in the USA and UK which also use public transport. Although Singapore and Tokyo are one of the wealthiest cities in Asia, other countries in the continent can learn a lot from these cities. Concepts such as bribe, delays, and cleanliness while traveling on a bus is also strictly followed in Singapore and Tokyo. Tokyo, for instance, and nearly all other cities in Japan are known for their cleanliness in bus and trains which also have very good connectivity to most of the suburbs in the city. People can also complain about the public transport system if they are not running smoothly or if there is something wrong with the transport system.
However, a country does not have to be wealthy in order to initiate good public transport systems. The Delhi metro and the emerging Bangalore metro also follow strict rules and are providing good services. Even some public transportation in China especially Beijing is known to be very good. So emerging economies also have public transport as one of their main goals, but the main challenge in car-dependent societies is changing the mindset of people to use public transportation. The population in China and India will be one of the main challenges in order to provide the same facilities for all the people in the country. For instance, one of the main reasons people don’t use public transportation, particularly for busses, in Bangalore is because it is crowded, dirty and unreliable. This is because there are just too many people to manage and provide for. The government needs to think of such issues seriously to manage public transport facilities. The fact that there is more debate on public transportation in India will help change people’s mindset and maybe make the government provide better transportation facilities for people.
Related: Facts about the Delhi Metro!
Therefore, public transportation is an important issue around the world. Whether you live in a developed or developing country, most cities in the world are car dependent. The mindset of status and wealth attached to cars should reduce so that people see the advantage of public transportation and the positive impacts it can have on our society. There are many more examples than the ones I’ve given in this article of places where public transport is utilized but there are more where car-dependency is a serious issue. In order to create a sustainable future, we need to see the positive benefits of public transport and implement it in our cities.