The transportation sector is critical to every country’s economic development. As a result, the value of public transportation’s success cannot be overstated. An interview was conducted to address the existing condition of public transportation in the United States, as well as ways to improve it in order to promote future progress. Madam Secretary Elaine Chao of the United States Department of Transportation was the respondent. She has extensive experience in this area, having previously served as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation from 1989 to 1991.
The first question she was asked was about the most popular modes of transportation in the United States. The main forms of public transport utilized in the USA are taxis (cabs), local commutes, buses, trains and airplanes. In large cities such as New York, taxis can be found parked in corners. In smaller towns, however, an individual has to call a taxi company in order to get their services. Taxis have a meter which show the amount of fare owed based on the mileage covered. Local commutes include buses and trains with published routes, schedules and fares. Commuter trains mainly ferry clients between the city and suburbs. They mostly operate during rush hours and reservations are not available. Airports are frequently used since the USA is a very big country and airplanes are fast and reliable.
She was also asked to explain the main challenges to public transportation in the USA and the measures put in place to improve on these areas. The stated safety and security as the biggest issue. Emergency preparedness is lacking in most forms of public transport. Some personnel do not have first aid kits, and if they do they have very limited equipment. She also mentioned the threat of crime as a major hindrance to the effectiveness of public transport. This includes highway robbers who target public buses. Bus drivers are at a very high risk since they are not assigned any protective details and buses do not have alarm systems in case of robberies.
The Secretary also reported that the government was creating awareness on the importance of safety in public transport. She said that the bus companies were expected to implement a plan for providing all their buses with properly equipped first aid kits. She added that the government has a plan to increase the number of traffic police in risky bus routes and neighborhoods.
The other problem is the one regarding poor scheduling by some bus companies. In some cases, the buses do not arrive on time thereby leaving commuters stranded. This is very inconvenient and can also be unsafe in the case of risky bus stops. The main causes of this is heavy traffic especially during rush hour and in a few cases, the breakdown of vehicles. The Secretary said that the bus companies should ensure that all their vehicles are in proper condition before they are put on the road. She also said that her department is working towards increasing personnel who manage traffic congestion in major cities. The companies have also been advised to change their schedules to something practical so that commuters do not expect a bus which will arrive an hour later than the published time.
The Secretary of Transport was very co-operative and confident during the whole interview and is very knowledgeable on the subject matter. She stated that the public transport system has its challenges, but these challenges can be worked on. The development of a country is only as good as the quality of services provided to its citizens. It is therefore necessary to enhance the public transportation sector so that every citizen feels that their needs are catered to.