Does Public Transit Bring People Together?

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A poll was conducted in 10 Georgia counties by SBRI to determine the impact of public transportation on the relationships between residents. The results are quite interesting.

Transit Riders Feel More Connected

51% of those that had ridden on the MARTA transit service in Atlanta at least once in the past six months said that they had strong connections to the Atlanta region. Only 23% of those that did not utilize that service said they had strong connections to the same region.

“In addition, 72 percent of riders had a strong connection to their neighborhood versus 64 percent of nonriders. A total of 64 percent of transit riders felt a strong connection to the county where they reside, as opposed to 55 percent of nonriders,” report Craig Schneider and Steve Visser.

“The poll results raise provocative questions as to the value of the transit service beyond getting tens of thousands of people to work each day. Do people have a deeper connection to community because they ride transit? Or do they ride transit because they already have that deeper connection?”

According to the authors, “Experts said there’s little research on whether or transit riders feel more connected to their communities. Jana Lynott, a transportation analyst for the American Association of Retired Persons, said many people who take transit have an ‘urbanist’ point of view, meaning they already view themselves as tightly bound up in the region’s social fabric.”

My Experience

I grew up in a region in which the residents (relatively) heavily relied on public transportation, and they got to know each other because of this. They gathered at bus stops where there were plenty of people waiting for their buses. This is conducive to socializing because they are idle there, unlike many situations such as work, school, and even lunch periods during which people are often too busy working or eating to chat. They had the opportunity to chat while on buses, as they were not usually doing anything, apart from text messaging.

What are your thoughts on this study and the topic in general?

Follow me on Twitter: @Kompulsa

Source: Planetizen
Photo Credit: JKD Atlanta / Flickr

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Nicholas Brown

Has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

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One thought on “Does Public Transit Bring People Together?

  • I think that “public transportation” is too broad a brush… yes, there are some benefits, and that’s intuitive. But the numbers are small: there is a desired and welcome effect but that’s just serendipity: where is the intent? How might public transportation intentionally bring people together as an end in itself? What parts of the system are the most effective to that end?

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