Yeah, I said it: "Fuck public transportation."
And I know what you're thinking: wow, he's a privileged little bastard who must be grossed out by public buses. Not everyone can afford fancy-ass, overpriced Ubers.
And you are right in some ways. I am privileged for having the opportunity to state such a claim. However, I am not saying, "fuck public transportation" because it is gross or because I do not want to interact with people.
I scream, "FUCK PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION!" because we are doing it so wrong in the US.
Right now, I am in the Netherlands for a study abroad on international environmental policy, and I am seeing the wonders of what public transportation can do.
Buses, metros and trams have comfortable, clean, community seating. Getting on and off is as easy as the tap of a card, and the schedule is efficient and effective. The Dutch care about their public transportation, and unlike the US, do not let its systems deteriorate due to differences in perceptions of socioeconomic opportunities.
People smile when they get on the bus. Do you know how many people smile when they get on the bus in the US? No one. No one smiles because everyone is pissed. No one is head-over-heels to be on the bus in the US.
Yet, in the Netherlands, people are happy on the bus. Regional rail is also lovely and relegated by the touch of the card. Yep, no conductor or passive-aggressive ticketer. Everything is electronic, fast and clean. And when I say clean, I do not just mean physically, I mean environmentally as well.
Doors do not open when not needed. Transportation is often powered by solar panels or wind energy. Best of all, bikes are used a shit-load.
And when I say a shit-load, I mean as in there are more bikes than cars. I mean for every car, there are ten bikes. I mean that I've almost gotten hit by passionate bikers, like, seventeen times. I mean that there are actual bi-level bicycle parking garages. I mean that there are motherfucking bike lanes.
They are so beautiful. The lanes are thin and sleek. Perfect for quick, environmentally friendly transportation. Such lanes are largely missing from the streets of the US.
Because God forbid we bike or walk. Oh, how we agonize movement. We hate unscheduled exercise. It's true. It's just our mindset. Like, I consider crying if I have to walk to the freezer to get ice cream while watching Netflix.
We fight over parking spots for our gas guzzlers or complain about our UberPool rides on the way to the gym. Due to this deep, deeply ingrained cultural fear of movement, we don't petition and organize to ask for bike lanes. We don't immediately demand clean transportation. We don't ride bikes.
Rather, in the US, those who can afford to be are scared or too boujee to use public transportation, don't want to get "germs" and don't want to interact with people of a different "socioeconomic class".
Yes, sometimes public transportation can be dirty, or it can be scary, but that filth and fear is only generated by our lack of care towards those systems. We elect representatives who do not want to immediately better those transportation networks, and who also do not care enough about the efficiency and sustainability of such systems. Those who can self-segregate themselves from "others" do so, and as a whole, we, the citizens of the US, do not see a collective unity in community and environmental consciousness.
So instead, we Uber and we Lyft. We use cars and pollute our already disgusting cities.
And don't give me that excuse that, in the city, Uber and Lyft are quicker. The level of traffic in most American cities is so congested that if it were a human with a cold, there would be snot covering that person's entire face and body.
We just have to want it, and we have to want it collectively.
I don't know if the unified desire for environmental protection and sustainable change in the Netherlands is due to its small size and historical relationship to water as a largely below sea-level nation, compared to the massive, above sea-level bungle of states that is the US; however, we need to find our unity in being green.
If we do not, we'll kill our home.