10,700,000,000. That’s how many trips were taken on public transportation last year in the United States. It’s a number so significant, even Fox News chose to post the Associated Press article (link). For those that are keeping track, that’s the highest number since 1956, before the explosion of suburbs around the country.
But, will these numbers stay? CEO Michael Melaniphy of the American Public Transit Association seems to think so: “This is a long term trend. This isn’t just a blip.” He cited that people seem to enjoy the option of a car and mass transit, and developments near bustling transit corridors are the most valuable. “People want to work and live along transit lines,” Melaniphy said. “Businesses, universities and housing are all moving along those corridors.” This is parallel with a steady trend of people moving to cities and urban areas not only in the United States, but across the world (link), as well.
According to the World Health Organization, about 40% of the world’s population lived in cities in 1990. That’s expected to increase to 60% by 2030 and 70% of the world’s population by 2050. As of right now, a little more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas (link). It’s important to note that many of these urban areas in developing countries are well, developing, and have not attained the infrastructure we see in the United States – be it railways or highways. We are at a point where the United States can return to being a leader, although perhaps not on a military front. Many developing nations look to countries such as the United States for cues on furthering their own country in more ways than just militarily.
Would we want them to see a United States that embraces alternative forms of transportation, slashes commute times, and saves gasoline and money in the process, or a United States that wastes about 1.9 billion gallons of gas per year sitting in traffic (link) and $100 billion annually?
Perhaps we could ponder this while sitting in traffic on our morning commute.