One of the best ways to cut down on our carbon footprint is to use mass transportation, which of course is much easier to do when cities offer convenient transit options. As cities continue to grow, mass transit and other means of transportation are of high priority in order to reduce pollution, minimize traffic congestion and encourage more sustainable city living. So, which cities in the US have the best public transportation systems?
Portland, Oregon’s TriMet is one of the main leaders in US mass transportation. It carries more people than any other US transit, including 26 percent of rush-hour commuters, 90 percent of which live within half a mile of the transit system. In 1989, TriMet was named “America’s Best Large Transit Agency” by the American Public Transportation Association. Portland continues to work towards keeping that status by making mass transportation more convenient, reliable and comfortable. The city also continues to find ways to be more eco-friendly by increasing fuel efficiency, using recycled materials for construction and installing certain landscaping features to reduce pollutants from storm water runoff.
Chicago, Illinois also has a great public transportation system, where the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) averages 1.6 million rides per weekday. It operates in 35 suburban areas, as well as the city of Chicago, and provides rail transportation to two major airports. The city consistently applies for grants in order obtain funds for green projects.
Another city that has easy accessible mass transit is San Francisco, California, with its San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. The city has established Climate Action Strategies in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, develop fuel-efficient transit and reduce waste and water usage. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) updates the Regional Transportation Plan every four to five years in order to meet the goals of reducing carbon emissions, expand mass transit and make it more available to all residents. In 2012, San Francisco was awarded the 8th annual Sustainable Transport Award.
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania was awarded bronze for bus rapid transit (BRT) by the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) in May of 2013. ITDP’s mission is to promote transportation that is environmentally friendly, convenient and sustainable, and found that the BRT system deserved bronze for the amount of people it serves, the numerous routes it travels and the amount of congestion it eliminates.
It seems that cities are taking steps to create easy accessible, energy-efficient mass transportation to their residents and visitors. As more people continue to take advantage, cities will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and will reach their goals of becoming more sustainable. Mass transportation makes sense as the human population continues to grow. Roads will become more congested, CO2 levels will increase and people will find that they spend more time on the road than being productive. Using mass transportation can help eliminate all of these problems, which is a reward in itself.
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Stephanie Siemek is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.