The National Transportation Safety Board can account to the fact that public transportation is not perfectly safe. There are occasionally tragic fatalities as the result of accidents on subways, trolleys and buses. However, when compared to the number of fatalities on America’s roads, public transit appears to wrap passengers in bubble wrap. For a culture that is obsessed with safety, it is unfortunate that public transportation discussions do not more frequently cover safety.
Our reliance on roads as the primary means of transportation led to 37,261 fatalities in 2008, not to mention however many countless thousands of other injuries were sustained to both person and property. There have been 419,321 auto-related fatalities over the past decade. That is like killing off all of Miami, Oakland or Cleveland over the course of a decade. Keep in mind that people are generally more afraid of flying than driving, but according to the NTSB, ony 706 passengers have died on American flights in this decade.
We all too frequently gloss over the cost of human life when discussing the cost of infrastructure. If cities and metopolitan areas have the opportunity to devise systems of public transportation that allow more residents to commute to work via train/bus/light rail rather than driving, those opportunities should be taken advantage of. The cost in human life alone is too much to bear in order to say people should have the freedom to drive. More importantly, people should have freedom of choice in their means of transportation. In too many metropolitan areas in this country people are burdened with the necessity of a car.
There are innumerable benefits to public transit, but the human benefit of lives saved or otherwise unaltered by severe injuries, should never be taken lightly. No transit method is ever free from danger, and that includes the simple act of walking. However, moving our populaces via mass transit rather than the individually controlled method of the automobile is sure to preserve the sanctity of life going forward. The more people are on larger systems and the less they must rely on cars the better off both individuals, families, businesses, communities and society will be.