Everyone lives differently in the year 2018: every family situation is different, more people can communicate across the world, and renters are a higher portion of the population. However, the most prevalent and frustrating fact about how the nation is changing is that not everyone owns a car. Thanks to industrialization, people were socialized into thinking that everyone would have the same items: homes, televisions, and of course, cars. Towns, cities and states were built around the fact that everyone would have cars, which matched the price of living because most things were less expensive. However, now that the cost of living in most areas–even rural areas–is beyond the wages of most residents, many are choosing to forgo cars. Unfortunately, an industrialized mindset is harder to change.
While not everyone is going to college, almost every American between 18-45 is in some kind of debt, which is only increasing. Using old models, car dealerships are requiring that people finance vehicles instead of paying full cash even when enough cash has been saved. Concurrently, many services and even some employers require credit checks, and if a car payment is missed, someone could be out of a job as well as losing a car. Therefore, more younger people are opting to reduce their monthly costs by not buying cars, and use the money to either pay down debt or build up savings. Wage stagnation has limited the options offered to many, and having a vehicle that requires regular maintenance is another way of spending money that most younger adults do not have.
However, because many decision-makers have evolved in the era of car ownership, public transportation is threatened by those who view it as an option instead of an absolute necessity. When shutting down bus routes, people make one argument repeatedly: the bus will be in the same traffic as the rest of the cars. Contrarily, buses carry large groups of people who are able to eschew the cost of driving (gas, vehicular maintenance, registration) and arrive at their destination with less stress based on not having to navigate traffic. Also, those who argue against traffic do so because they strongly believe that bus riders have cars at home that they are unwilling to drive. Instead of viewing cars as an option and personal choice, too many transit planners believe that transit is a luxury; many such planners have cars themselves, so their decisions do not directly affect their lifestyles.
It is crucial for the group mentality about life in the United States to end. Local government entities owe it to their constituents to actually engage and discover how people are traveling rather than assuming that everyone traverses a community in the same way. The reason that such a method is known as “public transit/transportation” is because it is the community-funded method of transporting the public. No one should be ashamed or viewed poorly because of assuming financial responsibility and taking advantage of an innocuous resource.