In the U.S., if I need to run to the grocery store, I hop in my car and drive to the nearest Kroger. In Vienna, I walk down the street or take the underground U-Bahn.
Let’s face it — the public transit system in America cowers in the corner compared to that of Europe, particularly France and Germany. And as my fellow columnist Eduardo Salas pointed out, Germany’s nonexistent college tuition is just another slap in the face. Europe: 100, America: 0.
Public transit in Vienna is reliable, high functioning and utterly practical. In the U.S., it’s mediocre at best. Vienna offers trams, buses, trains and underground lines that can get you anywhere you want.
If I want gelato, I will have my gelato. And I don’t need a car to get it.
Vienna even offers Citybike, a public bike rental system that allows city-goers to ride around for a very low cost, if one at all. Instead of being a lazy little squid, I’ll get some exercise and be eco-friendly too.
We are embarrassingly car-dependent in America. While a faster, more reliable public transportation system could be implemented, we tend to veer toward individualism.
Simply put, the interest is just not there. We do not want a better public transit system because it does not suit us as self-serving, self-indulging individuals. Oh, and it’s ?expensive.
We like to have our own cars here; why take the bus to work when we can zoom down the highway in our oversized, luxury SUV? It’s the American dream, bro.
Stigma with public transit in America is only another barrier. If I can afford a car, why should I succumb to taking the bus to work? The bus is for the poor — it is beneath me, right?
While Amtrak exists, it could be vastly improved and expanded. If public interest grew, we could better fund and equip Amtrak to handle more people in more cities at ?cheaper rates.
When it comes to traveling from Los Angeles to New York, a plane is the only answer. But high-speed trains would offer an alternative to plane or car rides between ?close-together cities.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk recently proposed a design for “Hyperloop,” an ultra-fast transit system that would run between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It sounds ambitious, but theoretically possible.
Public transit accommodates the group as a whole; owning your own car accommodates, well, yourself. And for those of us who can’t afford cars, public transit is vital.
You might be in a situation in which driving without a ?license is your only way to get to work everyday. And getting pulled over, fined and thrown in the slammer for it is a risk you might just have to take — if not for a better public transit system.
Implementing such a system could reduce our dependence on foreign oil, cut back on carbon dioxide emissions by using fewer cars and provide a more efficient means of travel — for everyone. But that’s not going to happen ?just yet.
In the meantime, I encourage people to walk or ride a bike down the street, instead of wasting gas.
Think about it, America.