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Is the Hassle of Public Transportation Worth It?

2011 July 29

By Kasia Broussalian

The subway system of New York City boasts a number of milestones that shine through much of its grime…scurrying rats included.  The city’s rapid transit system is the oldest and most extensive system in the world. Last year alone it carried 1.6 billion riders through 468 stations and across 656 miles of revenue track.  This extensiveness, coupled with a 24-hour service routine, significantly cuts personal energy expense—especially where small geographic location meets an extremely high population density.

Don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of days when I am so exasperated with the system, I could fall to my knees and curse the very men who laid down those tracks in 1904.  There can be delayed trains, service disruptions (meaning no trains are coming), long wait times, and limited communication with the riders. Not to mention the scorching heat , little ventilation, and creeping rats that are enough to make any person think twice before making the perilous MetroCard swipe. There are upsides, though. Apart from the individual incentives; i.e. the no parking fees, no traffic headaches, etc, there are significant big picture contributions. About one-third of the United States’ total carbon emission comes from transportation, and 60 percent of that comes from personal vehicle use. Already, New York City rivals such “green cities” as San Francisco and Portland in terms of personal energy expenditure. The overall factor can be greatly attributed to our love-hate relationship with the subway system.

A few weeks back, I traversed a greater portion of the N train; from the East Village of Manhattan to the last stop at Coney Island. I noticed the traveler pictured above get on midway through my travels, and shortly after (perhaps two or three stops later), he hopped off. At this point I thought, “For all its faults, the subway really is the epitome of ease. Paths just out of walking distance or otherwise insurmountable to pedestrians become accessible and travelers can hop on and off without the hassle, or the pollution, of a car.” Tell us your experiences with the subway, exemplifying both its hassle and its ease.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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2 Responses leave one →
  1. Dan permalink
    August 5, 2011

    Couldn’t agree more. As much as at times I can be frustrated with weekend service changes, delays, and sweaty stations….in the end I love the subway system. It’s just easy, and I normally don’t think of how my actions are contributing to a better environment, but it’s nice to read this reminder.

  2. ed hardy winkel permalink
    June 7, 2012

    the no parking fees, no traffic headaches, etc, there are significant big picture contributions. About one-third of the United States’ total carbon emission comes from transportation, and 60 percent of that comes from personal vehicle use. Already, New York City rivals such “green cities” as San Francisco and Portland in terms of personal energy expenditure. The overall factor can be greatly attributed to our love-hate relationship with the subway system

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