Many commuters in large metropolitan areas and in big cities both here in the U.S. and globally rely on public transportation for getting to and from places. After all, it is often a hassle to sit in traffic and can be quite inconvenient in a densely packed area to drive a car, not to mention the environmental problems with air pollution associated with driving. So, naturally anyone who lives in or near a city always want to find out who well their city happens to be doing when it comes to their public transit system overall.
According to world rankings of the best public transit systems, the best cities include Hong Kong where it receives a ranking of 4 because its system “absorbs most of its residents’ transportation needs.” Other cities with great public transportation systems include Curitiba, Brazil which comes it at number 1 as a result of things like a highly efficient bus system, a single price system, and what is even most impressive is high usage–whereby 85% of the population uses this public transit system.
As such, the lesson from Brazil is that a good public transportation system is not one that simply happens to be located in a big city or is available for use by all individuals. Rather, a good public transportation system is one that uses a highly reliable and efficient system, is relatively cost affordable, and encourages rather than discourages use. In the U.S., there are public transportation systems some of which are ranked well like New York, Portland, Chicago, and Washington DC among others, but overall they are not in the top 10 and do not compare to the Brazil style public transportation system. What they all lack in particular is the concept of affordability in terms of a “single price system.”
For example, in the DC metro system, there are often differences in prices depending on where one gets on and where they get off. Furthermore, the prices change throughout the day. As such, the single price system in Brazil is quite appealing and makes them ahead of the curve in terms of being a model for not only an efficient public transportation system, but also one that is relatively cost affordable. Often, individuals may avoid taking public transportation because of things like rates that are not stable at least in the U.S., as public transportation costs here vary from city to city and even from stop to stop. Thus, the Brazil system has clearly figured out a way to make public transportation more cost effective.
Article by Patrick Kenney, appearing courtesy Justmeans.