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What Does Public Transportation Say About The Community It Serves? | News

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What Does Public Transportation Say About The Community It Serves?
What Does Public Transportation Say About The Community It Serves?

By Seth Horton

What public transportation says about the community it serves

When some people think about public transportation, they might think people who ride buses have no other transportation alternative. If that's your thought, you might want to take a look at who's riding the bus these days.

Yes, public transportation does serve a need for those without options. But let's think of public transportation as less of a need and more of an opportunity for the whole community. Today, public transportation speaks volumes to how a community prepares for sustainable success and growth, how much the community values effective planning and shows that it is seeking many avenues for an improved economy.

Sustainable success and growth

We've all heard that a major problem in Michigan is getting young people to stay here after they've reaped the benefits of our state's higher education institutions. We've also heard that a convenient, accessible public transportation system is one of the ways to get them to stay. Generation Y is poised to make a huge impression on public transportation. This generation, almost as large as the infamous Baby Boomer generation at about 60 million, is showing a preference for public transportation. For many, individual autos are no longer considered a status symbol.

This generation also grew up with technology and has the gadgets to be connected all the time, in any place. Time wasted traveling could be time spent working, chatting, getting caught up with friends, shopping or any variety of activities online. For many, the freedom of time during transit outweighs the freedom of driving at whim.

But clearly, Generation Y is not the only group turning to public transportation. That infamous Baby Boomer generation will need alternative transportation options, too. U.S. Census Bureau statistics indicate the number of Kent County's 65-plus population increased by 6.6 percent over the past decade. Whether from need or want, these folks will increasingly turn to public transportation, but their needs may cost more. People in this demographic have a higher tendency to live in outlying suburbs, making accessibility a prime concern. Having the infrastructure and ability to meet these specific needs will continue to present a challenge to transit agencies.

Value of Effective Planning

Public transportation has a substantial effect on urban planning, or does urban planning have the effect on public transportation? In any event, by definition, urban areas have a volume of people within a specific...