public transportation vs private cars

Availability of public transportation and population density are important factors to take into account when choosing a place of residence. In a recent move from Europe to North America, this influenced very much our decision to live in the downtown core of Victoria (British Columbia) rather than the suburbs.

Living without a car is liberating, but only when convenient, reliable public transportation is available. In most of the world, there is little or no public transportation in suburban or rural areas. Sadly, some cities (Houston, Texas comes to mind) have no urban core, with the result that public transportation is very limited, and not a serious option.

In most cities, driving is horrible. It is stop-start, boring and bad-tempered.

Many people say they drive because they do not like being crushed against other sweaty, disagreeable commuters. I have driven and I have commuted. Fellow passengers are a great deal more civilised than other drivers — and their odours are less offensive than the emissions you inhale in a car.

In many cities today, there really is no need for a car. Public transport and walking can get you almost everywhere you need to go. It is healthier and it is greener. In London, I don’t drive for weeks, or sometimes months, at a time. (Others have taken to bicycles. I do not regard them as healthier — certainly not in London.)

Michael Skapinker, “Why buying a car makes no sense“, Financial Times, 23 July 2015 (metered paywall).

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