As things would have it, it took the high price of oil to get Americans out from behind the wheel and into public transportation. There is one problem however, there is little or none in many places.
If you can imagine standing on the side of the road for 30 minutes in the dead of winter dodging slush and sleet waiting for a bus, you can get a feel for what public transportation is like in Connecticut. Connecticut being one of the richest states in the nation, leaves much to be desired when it comes to public transportation. Assuming that this is a typical model in cities that have a population of 1 million or less, no wonder people want to drive a car.
Comparing to an Asian city like Bangkok where you can cross town like spiderman and never touch the pavement jumping from the top of one public vehicle to another, the United States is in bad shape. To make it worth while for Americans to take public transportation it must be fast, plentiful and significantly less expensive than a car. Most Americans can tolerate a 30 to 45 minute commute. Any longer and it will not fly. If a 40 minute car commute can be cut to 25 minutes with public transportation, then it will catch on. It would be even more attractive once the price of oil goes back up.
Each city and the surrounding rural area must consider what is best. Loading the streets with mini busses may work for some and not for others. Other cities may make use of a rail system that does not need to deal with traffic lights or road rage. In all cases the transportation must reach well into the suburbs and have many access points.
Public transportation would also need to evolve away from oil. Some of the technology part 3 talked about could be used with busses as well. Realistically electric trains powered with solar or wind would be the goal for many areas. That could avoid the traffic and save time in many mid size cities. The jobs that could be created at first would be the development of the system. Then the supporting jobs would follow later. This would be a fairly long term infrastructure plan.
In the far rural parts of the country, similar plans could still be used, however it would be a hard sell for small town America as the recovery of costs may never be seen. Certainly the wisdom of the community will help decide what to do. Sooner or later the price of oil will drive this to necessity, and it is best to at least get some sort of blue print on the table. It does not even need to be a bus. Some super golf cart sized enclosed vehicles similar to a Hollywood back lot tour vehicle that can sit 10 or 12 people may be all that is needed. Power that with a motorcycle engine and you have cheap transportation that can be a bit of an adventure at the same time.
Good idea. How about opening a Song Taew service in the US? Only one problem- the permits and transportation unions will kill your business!
Worse than the local police / mafia in Thailand where a little tea money keeps you in business.