I often wonder, where we would be – fiscally and socially, if we rely only on public transportation to get around; what is the cost, per mile, to travel from place to place? What is the experience?
Today, I had to go to Saratoga Springs for business, so I traveled 75 miles from New Paltz to Albany, then 35 miles from Albany to Saratoga Springs. On the reverse trip I traveled 25 miles from Saratoga Springs to Schenectady, then 18 miles from Schenectady to Albany.
It costs $25 to take the bus between New Paltz and Saratoga Springs; $1.50 between Saratoga Springs and Schenectady; and $2.00 between Schenectady and Albany.
The disparity in the travel expense is incredible, when you consider the cost per mile for the entire trip, compared to the cost per mile for each segment of the trip between towns. I traveled a total of 153 miles and paid $28.5 which yields an average cost of $0.18/mile, yet the 25 mile segment between Saratoga and Schenectady only cost $1.50 ($0.06/mile).
Perhaps the rationale for this is based on pure demographics, ridership, and the relative ease of connection between locations.
Once you understand the regional transit system, and you plan accordingly; the only question is the social experience of using public transportation; it is certainly not a financial one.
Here, intolerance I believe, is the essence of the problem.
A culture not accustomed to public transportation does not know how to manage sharing space and dealing with some discomfort; both of which are unavoidable on the bus. One is exposed to a forced interaction between strangers; rubbing shoulders, listening to loud music, even louder conversations, and this requires a degree of tolerance.
The real cost of travel is far less a financial consideration, then a social one; and we are simply not prepared to deal with circumstances that dictate we engage with others in a such a visceral way.