Canada's Condominium Magazine
Greater Toronto Area residents have long known that traffic congestion is a major issue. Many residents feel as though more needs to be done to remedy the problem and have urged people to consider commuting rather than clogging up the streets. In an effort to combat traffic problems, Toronto and surrounding areas have begun to invest more heavily in public transportation, as well as employing multiple methods for providing transit.
While some insist that they should not have to pay for public transit that they are not using, the general consensus is that taxes utilized for such purposes are well spent and that public transit benefits everyone, regardless of whether they personally utilize those services. Transit benefits users by providing them with affordable and reliable transportation when purchasing or using their own vehicle is not a feasible option.
In 2007, the American Public Transportation Association released a report titled Public Transportation: Benefits for the 21st Century. The report provided an overview of the benefits that public transportation provides for individuals and communities. It also went a step further in outlining the benefits on a national and global scale.
It also benefits drivers by clearing up the roads, reducing traffic congestion, and cutting down on travel times for users and nonusers alike. The more public transportation options available, the fewer the number of vehicles clogging up the streets. Many options are available for public transit, and the more options utilized within a community, the better. Some of the modes of transportation that could be utilized include the following:
- Trolleys and light rail
- Subways and Commuter Trains
- Streetcars and Cable Cars
- Van Pool and Car Pool Services
- Paratransit Services for Seniors and People with Disabilities
- Ferries and Water Taxis
- Monorails and Tramways
- Ride Hailing Services
Implementation of public transit has been shown to improve air quality. Traffic-related air pollution has resulted in numerous health issues and complications such as strokes, heart attacks, lung disease and infections, asthma, and even death. As populations rise, so does the need for better, more efficient services that aid people in their day-to-day lives while eliminating issues that arise from high population density.
According to the APTA report, increased investment in public transit could directly improve and protect the health and lives of citizens. “Our car-centered transportation system has led to pollution and poor air quality. Emissions from road vehicles are the largest contributors to smog.”
“Public transportation produces 95 percent less carbon monoxide (CO), 90 percent less in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and about half as much carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx), per passenger mile, as private vehicles.”
Furthermore, experts have weighed in about the effects of public transit on climate change. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), climate change is the greatest public health threat of the 21st Century. In Ontario alone, the transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. However, communities can curb the effect of these greenhouse gases and greatly reduce them by investing more in public transit. This will also go a long way in aiding the province and the country as a whole in meeting our commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement, not to mention creating a healthy environment for generations to come.
Public transportation also provides economic opportunities, providing more citizens with jobs and also allowing people to make extra money in their spare time by opening up their personal vehicles for use through ride-sharing opportunities, carpools, and ride hailing apps. Home values spike when public transit options are available nearby, and local businesses are also more profitable due to the influx of people that are granted access due to public transit.
“Public transportation not only helps to maintain and create jobs, it also moves people to and from their jobs,” read the report. “Businesses located near public transportation experience more employee reliability and less absenteeism and turnover. Employers have a larger labor pool from which to choose, and employees are happier because they are not driving in congestion delays.”
Another, often overlooked, benefit of public transportation is its ability to save lives in emergency situations. When tragedy strikes, seconds count. In situations where we are facing natural disasters and other large-scale threats, public transportation could save hundreds and even thousands of lives, whereas people may otherwise be stranded with everyone attempting to flee at once in their own private vehicles.
“Public transportation is an important back-up alternative for moving people quickly during a disaster or emergency.” This is especially important in natural or man-made disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, wildfires, nuclear disasters, and more. While most of these are rare occurrences and are unlikely to happen, it is better to be safe than sorry, and having adequate options available could make all the difference between life or death. Even if you do not currently utilize these services, it is important to invest in them because you never know when you or someone you know might need them.