The following is a guest post by Bhaskar, who authors the Speak Out blog. An unabridged version of this article can be found there.
In this economic downturn, and automotive industries taking such a hard hit, many people are talking about alternative sources of energy, hybrid vehicles, solar panels etc. I understand it is necessary to invest more in this resource. I find it really hard to digest the fact that the automakers-GM, Chevy who once ruled the market and profits in America are now really on the debacle, filing for bankruptcy. Obama government is doing all possible things to save this industry.
However, the idea of this post was not to discuss possibilities and changes that could be brought out. I am trying to focus on the public transportation system in my city- State College, the home of the Pennsylvania State University, a highly acclaimed university.
Its better to invest in public transportation, mass transit facilities, rail lines etc, than to focus on bringing newer cars into the market. We do have a buses in State college that helps people travel from place to place. However, we need to realize that State college is merely an university town and most people staying here are students.
CATA, as they call it,stands for Center Area Transportation Authority. The best part of this system is that the buses run clean, burning compressed natural gas. Hence, I feel that in a small way, we are trying to be eco-conscious. However, I am against this system for the fact that its too expensive to ride the bus.
I tried working out a balance sheet for the month and this is what I found.
Buying a pass for the month on the CATA line : $ 49
If you own a car and drive to school daily, (You anyways pay for the car insurance even if you do not drive to school), then
cost of fuel for the entire month= $25
Parking cost at the univ = $8 /month
Total= $ 33
This results in a saving of $16 a month. Which on an annual basis reflects to about $185.
This just goes to show that CATA bus service is really expensive. For a transit system that is funded by the county or the state, these services must be cheap. Infact, in many universities, local bus rides are free if you flash your ID.
So what motivates me against taking the bus?
If I drive to school, I can leave home at the time I want. This means that my schedule does not depend on the bus timings. Also, I get to save 15 to 20 bucks a month, depending on how much i drive.
If you are a staff at PSU, you definitely earn more than students, and CATA charges them just 5 bucks a month on the monthly pass. How logical is this?
I'd rather burn more fuel on my car (which I feel sad to say since I am an automotive engineer), but then I am justified in doing so.
Is there a solution to this?