Hasan Minhaj: why your public transportation sucks

Transportation has always been one of the most public-facing pieces in the climate change puzzle, through emissions, through the health effects of air pollution, and through the politics of moving people around. Ground-based mass transit has always been one of the obvious “first steps” available to us to solve all of those problems. Modern trains are far more efficient per ton moved, whether it’s people or freight. They also create far less air pollution than road traffic, and they make travelling, for work or for pleasure, considerably more affordable.

And so, of course, the Koch empire opposes it. Many thanks to Hasan Minhaj for covering this:

When Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General of the United States, his vision of the postal service was as a great force for unification. Its mandate, to deliver mail to every corner of the nation, served to tie the us together, by allowing an affordable flow of data, ideas, and other information, available to every person living in the land.

A nation-wide rail network – particularly a modern, well-maintained one – serves much the same purpose. It means that you don’t need the expenses and dangers of car travel to see any part of the nation – you can just pack a bag and get on the train. If you can’t find a job where you are, you can commute to locations farther away, even if you can’t afford a personal vehicle. If that doesn’t work, you can pack all of your belongings onto a train and move to any other part of the country. It’s available to everyone, and if it were to be operated – like the USPS – as a public service, rather than an engine for private profit, it would be affordable for everyone too.

Mass transit gives power to the people. The power to leave an area ravaged by corporate greed. The power to move to a place with better opportunities. The power to travel without paying tribute to those who want to use your money to rule the world. That’s why oligarchic thugs like the Koch brothers have always fought against it, and why we have everything to gain by fighting back.


  1. Oggie: Mathom says

    One of the big reasons that conservatives in the US are very much against public mass transit is that, except for a very few anomalies, the employees are members of unions. I have discovered an easy and quick personal guide to determine if an idea presented in the public forum is conservative or progressive: if the idea would damage unions, give money to the rich, and/or give succor to the radical religious right, then conservatives will be all for it. And being anti-public transit systems fills two of the three. And, as the bard sang, two out of three ain’t bad.

  2. StevoR says

    Also agreed.

    (& yes, I do always think of what I shoulda said or added ’bout two secs after I’ve already posted. Sorry, sigh.

  3. says

    When Taiwan finished the metro rail from Taipei to the airport, it heavily cut into the amount of car and bus traffic to the airport. Taxis lowered their fares just to keep the impatient travellers. Taiwan’s rail network is extensive. Only remote areas don’t have some rail service, and those that do have commercial buses linking to larger areas. In fourteen years here, I have never felt the need to own a scooter – though I am thinking about an electric kickboard scooter (with a 20km battery range) for the “last mile problem”.

    In a reversal, where I used to live in British Columbia, commercial bus service ended and there is no rail service. Those in isolated communities who don’t own vehicles with no means of travel except hitchhiking, a dangerous prospect given the high number of missing and murdered people in the region.

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