We grazed over this article by the Science World Report, most of which focused on adults aged 60 and over not using public transit, and found this ratpag-affirming line: “those who used public transit were more likely to meet physical activity requirements that promoted overall health and well-being.” We couldn’t agree more.
The study, conducted by the Brown School in St. Louis, found that those 60 and over were less likely to use public transportation due to “perceptions of speeding traffic and high crime.” It’s crazy out there – one can’t blame them for having such a world view.
Anyway, there’s a good chance that someone over 60 has a car or two so…they’re probably not going to start taking the bus. ratpag concedes this one.
But if you’re not going to give up the car, could you at least make it easier for everyone else to not have to drive along with you (particularly those like our grandrat, who seems to think of red lights as nothing more than oddly-colored, unusually-placed daytime street lights. That’s if our grandrat even saw them)?
A great way to keep the under-60 crowd off the road would be by giving free rides, as suggested in this Salon article. They first cite the brief free-ride policy that Paris instituted this past spring when excessive pollution hung over the French capital; noting that “traffic dropped by nearly 20 percent” while “large-particle pollution fell by nearly 6 percent.”
Free rides have been in place in some European towns for some time, including Châteauroux, France, with a population of 49,000, which “eliminated transit fares in 2001 – and ridership increased more than 200 percent during the following decade” and Hasselt, Belgium, which eliminated bus fare in 1997 and saw a 1,200 percent increase in ridership.
What does the article conclude? That people like free rides! Greater use of public transit is cleaner, uses less energy, and decreases automobile congestion. It’s also possible that automobile accidents, injuries, and deaths would decrease, though overall accident rates would likely not change. So why not give it a try? We hear so much about how painful it is for everyone to have to pay more at the pump – perpetually-rising transit fares hurt no less.