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Imagine being lost in New York City. Where would you go? My first instinct would be to hail a taxi or get on a train or subway and take it somewhere familiar to me. What if you had no money, then what would you do? I don’t know what I would do. You can’t take public transportation without money, but you should be able to. Even if you weren’t lost, and you had somewhere to go, what would you do? So many people are unable to afford public transportation, that they are just not able to get around, and get to where they need to go, like to work or to an event. If public transportation were to be made free, people who can’t afford a train ticket would now be able to get around. Moreover, despite the obvious benefits, there would be no more crazy city car traffic. This would help to conserve the environment, and to create a safer and healthier environment. Therefore, public transportation should in fact be made free in the United States.Issues regarding public transportation have been an ongoing debate since the 1950s. In the 1950s, African Americans were discriminated against; They were not able to to ride  in the front of the bus and had to give up their seat for a white person. For example, Rosa Parks sparked much debate and controversy when she refused to give her seat up for a white person. This led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, when blacks refused to ride public busses at all. Now, Social Justice advocate, Tyler Falk states: “While African Americans are no longer required to move to the back of the bus or surrender their seats, public transit continues to be central to the struggle for civil rights” (Falk). Low income families and minority families are still struggling to afford public transportation and ride it the same way those fortunate do. Having equal access to employment is a fundamental part of civil rights policy. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination based on race, gender, religion, etc. It goal is to level the playing field for employment by ending discriminatory practices by employers. While this is important, employers are not the only factor deciding who has access to employment. Metropolitan areas have been expanding outward, and jobs have been moving away from the low income and minority people who remain in urban areas. If these low income people are not able to transport to their jobs, they are not receiving equal access to employment. With free public transportation, these low income people will actually be able to get to their jobs in order to work and make money. In addition to concerns about unequal job access, other related issues have also arisen over the fairness of transit service pricing as well as the quality of service. An important benefit to public transportation is employment. Public transportation employs many people, and its purpose is to get people to where they need to go, mainly their jobs. If public transportation were to be made free,  people would have easier access to jobs. In addition, if public transportation were to be free, more people would take it, more vehicles and services would need to be made, and more jobs would become available. Public transportation should be made free because it is already affecting the economy and everyone’s lives in a positive way; if it were made free, it would have an even larger impact. APTA, the American Public Transportation Association states that: “87 percent of public transit trips impact the economy”. For example, “every $1 invested in public transportation generates approximately $4 in economic returns. Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates more than 50,000 jobs. Every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $32 million in increased business sales” (APTA). Even now, riding public transportation saves individuals money as well. The term “Affordable transportation”  means that an individual’s total travel expenses make up less than 20% of their household finances (APTA). With free public transportation, it’s obvious that travel expenses will be extremely low.Currently,  there is a direct correlation between gas prices and the amount of people that ride public transportation. “The ridership in 2013, when gas prices were lower than in 2008, undermines the conventional wisdom that transit use rises when those prices exceed a certain threshold, and suggests that other forces are bolstering enthusiasm for public transportation,” said Michael Melaniphy, the president of the association. “Now gas is averaging well under $4 a gallon, the economy is coming back and people are riding transit in record numbers,” Mr. Melaniphy said in an interview. “We’re seeing a fundamental shift in how people are moving about their communities (nytimes.com).” With gas prices high, more people are riding public transportation. People aren’t using public transportation when it is not financially worth it to them; when gas prices become high, public transportation becomes financially worth it. If public transportation were to be free, it would always be financially worth it. It’s obvious that if public transportation were free people would save money by not paying tickets, but the amount of money people spend on cars would also significantly decrease. Now, The average household spends 17.5 cents of every dollar on transportation. 94% of that goes to maintaining, and operating cars; this is the largest use of money after housing. One household alone can save more than $10,100 by taking public transportation. Further, car accidents are responsible for approximately 40,000 deaths per year; one of the largest causes of death (transloc.com). Bus related accidents have one-twentieth the passenger fatality rates of cars. So, taking public transportation is clearer safer, in terms of accidents, than driving your own car. People may easily argue that making public transportation free is just not doable, or that these modes of transportation will become too crowded and the US will only lose money, but this experiment has already been done successfully elsewhere. In the Tallinn experiment, public transportation was made free in 2013 in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Three-quarters of those who voted in a referendum backed the idea, an attempt to make Tallinn one of the greenest cities in Europe. Many were skeptical that they would just be losing money, but Tallinn has turned a profit of €20m a year. Ticket sales cover only 33% of the costs of running the transit network (theguardian.com). This proves that ticket sales are only a small part of the money being made through public transportation. If public transportation were to be made free, the loss of ticket sales money would not have such a significant impact. Moreover, as previously stated, Tallinn’s goal was to become one of the greenest cities in Europe, and the US should strive to achieve this goal as well. A recent study states that air pollution causes more deaths than Malaria and AIDs combined, but seemingly, people are more scared of the words malaria and AIDs than air pollution. A new study by researchers at the University of Toronto found that 25% of cars and trucks are causing about 90% of pollution from the vehicles. Researchers collected evidence of 100,000 vehicles as they drove past  probes on one of Toronto’s many major roadways. The bottom 25% of the vehicles studied emitted: soot, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds. “The most surprising thing we found was how broad the range of emissions was,” says Evans, one researcher. “As we looked at the exhaust coming out of individual vehicles, we saw so many variations. How you drive, hard acceleration, age of the vehicle, how the car is maintained – these are things we can influence that can all have an effect on pollution.” If these cars were not out and about in the US, air pollution would  be extremely less, ensuring a better environment. With free public transportation, people would take advantage of that, and less cars would be being used and less cars would be emitting volatile substances (treehugger.com). Moreover, another benefit to public transportation as opposed to driving a car is the fact that it is healthier for the wellbeing of each individual. individuals who use public transportation get over three times the amount of physical activity each than as opposed to those who don’t. Walking to stops and final destinations insures physical activity and forces you to get the recommended 22 minutes of moderate physical exercise by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (transloc.com). This is important because, getting active helps lower the risk for many serious diseases, ranging all the way from  heart and vascular diseases to depression. Public transportation also reduces stress (transloc.com). Public transportation improves access to education and employment, which in turn leads to better and more long term economic opportunities. almost 60 percent of those who ride public transportation are going to work (transloc.com). In addition to providing access to jobs and work, public transportation also provides access to social activities. This allows individuals to participate in events they otherwise couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to. If public transportation were to be made free, people would be able to go out whenever they want and live a healthier life than they would just staying in their houses with no access to transportation. Furthermore, public transportation promotes public interaction and a greater sense of community. If everyone who wanted to was able to afford public transportation, they would also be affording a healthier life. In addition to the immediate benefits, Public transportation also yields future benefits. A survey of Americans ag 65 and older found that non-drivers take 15% fewer trips to the doctor, 59% fewer shopping trips and restaurant visits, and 65% fewer trips for social, family, and religious activities than those using an individual vehicle. Public transportation is a way for people who don’t have access to important services, such as doctor’s appointments, to be able to maintain their health if public transportation were free. In 2015, congress was  considering and eventually passed the “surface transportation reauthorization bill.” This bill allocates funds for highways, rail, bus, and other modes of transportation across this country. The project affects Americans lives because it helps give more  access to existing jobs, generates hundreds of thousands of new jobs. For these reasons, the transportation bill will have a significant impact on employment opportunities.Public transportation has been an important topic of conversation for a long time. There have been many controversies regarding public transportation that could be solved if public transportation were to be made free. Free public transportation would ensure that everyone has equal access to jobs, not just those who could afford to transport there. Moreover, public transportation affects all of our lives, whether you use it, or not, it is affecting you. If you do use it, imagine it being made free, wouldn’t you love to save ticket money? Or live  a healthier life? Or even be safer? If you are not one of the many that are using public transportation, you are still being affected by the air pollution cars give off. If public transportation were to be made free, the environment would be a safer place. So again, imagine being stranded in New York City, only this time you are able to follow you instinct. This time, because of free public transportation,  you are able to get on a bus or subway and go somewhere more familiar to you. Wouldn’t that feeling of knowing you will always have a way of getting around a large city make you feel more comfortable?

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