WASHINGTON, DC–A study released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association reveals that 98 percent of Americans support the use of mass transit by others.
"With traffic congestion, pollution, and oil shortages all getting worse, now is the time to shift to affordable, efficient public transportation," APTA director Howard Collier said. "Fortunately, as this report shows, Americans have finally recognized the need for everyone else to do exactly that."
Of the study's 5,200 participants, 44 percent cited faster commutes as the primary reason to expand public transportation, followed closely by shorter lines at the gas station. Environmental and energy concerns ranked a distant third and fourth, respectively.
Anaheim, CA, resident Lance Holland, who drives 80 miles a day to his job in downtown Los Angeles, was among the proponents of public transit.
"Expanding mass transit isn't just a good idea, it's a necessity," Holland said. "My drive to work is unbelievable. I spend more than two hours stuck in 12 lanes of traffic. It's about time somebody did something to get some of these other cars off the road."
Public support for mass transit will naturally lead to its expansion and improvement, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials said.
"With everyone behind it, we'll be able to expand bus routes, create park-and-ride programs, and build entire new Metrolink commuter-rail lines," LACMTA president Howard Sager said. "It's almost a shame I don't know anyone who will be using these new services."
Sager said he expects wide-scale expansion of safe, efficient, and economical mass-transit systems to reduce traffic congestion in all major metropolitan areas in the coming decades.
"Improving public transportation will do a great deal of good, creating jobs, revitalizing downtown areas, and reducing pollution," Sager said. "It also means a lot to me personally, as it should cut 20 to 25 minutes off my morning drive."
The APTA study also noted that of the 98 percent of Americans who drive to work, 94 percent are the sole occupant of their automobile.
"When public transportation is not practical, commuters should at least be carpooling," Collier said. "Most people, unlike me, probably work near someone they know and don't need to be driving alone."
Collier said he hopes the study serves as a wake-up call to Americans. In conjunction with its release, the APTA is kicking off a campaign to promote mass transit with the slogan, "Take The Bus... I'll Be Glad You Did."
The campaign is intended to de-emphasize the inconvenience and social stigma associated with using public transportation, focusing instead on the positives. Among these positives: the health benefits of getting fresh air while waiting at the bus stop, the chance to meet interesting people from a diverse array of low-paying service-sector jobs, and the opportunity to learn new languages by reading subway ads written in Spanish.
"People need to realize that public transportation isn't just for some poor sucker to take to work," Collier said. "He should also be taking it to the shopping mall, the supermarket, and the laundromat."