Transit: a solution to texting while driving

We’ve often said that better public transportation is necessary to solve our traffic (in)justice problems. The fact that driving a car is necessary for some people to get to work, makes it incredibly difficult to revoke their privilege when they prove unworthy of it. Driving has become a de facto entitlement because there are so few viable options in a sprawling metro.

Clive Thompson at Wired makes a good case for transit as a solution to texting and driving, too.

We should change our focus to the other side of the equation and curtail not the texting but the driving. This may sound a bit facetious, but I’m serious. When we worry about driving and texting, we assume that the most important thing the person is doing is piloting the car. But what if the most important thing they’re doing is texting? How do we free them up so they can text without needing to worry about driving?

Helmet-tip to John, for posting this in comments.

15 replies
  1. R A N T W I C K
    R A N T W I C K says:

    Transit solutions always appeal to me. The trouble with transit is that people won’t use it unless it is really good, and gov’ts won’t fund it to be good enough to draw people unless ridership can be demonstrated… that’s why I’m always happy to hear about rare BIG transit initiatives. BIG transit gets the riders.

    • Laura M
      Laura M says:

      “BIG Transit” or premium transit does indeed get choice riders, but those that are transit dependent don’t have a choice. They’re invisible to most people.

      85,000 people a day ride LYNX. Obviously SOMEONE is using transit around here.

  2. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Where I live, the trouble with transit is the nearest stop to work is 20 miles. I live 20 miles from work. I can ride transit but it doesn’t go where I need to go.

    For me, transit supplements recreational rides. TRE is a nice way to get to the Dallas library.

  3. Keri
    Keri says:

    Our system is set up so that all the subsidies for private motoring are insidiously woven into our economy while the subsidies for transit are separated for the public to glare and scoff at. Transit use might increase if 1) we extracted the motoring subsidies from their hiding places, making the cost comparison real, 2) it was a viable option people (families) could use to get to their destinations and realistically compare to the cost of owning a car (second car).

    In Italy, if you want to go from, say, Rome to Florence, you can drive a car and pay the same amount in tolls for the highway as you would pay for a coach ticket on the train. Then you have the hassle of driving that car and parking it in a city not built for automobiles vs reading a book or the paper and possibly even arriving within walking distance of your destination.

    • Grayson Peddie
      Grayson Peddie says:

      A car-free city, huh? 🙂

      I’d like to travel to a city in Italy that is not built for cars but only if I have the money for it.

      *sigh* Well, it’s something I’d like to experience for a change.

      • Keri
        Keri says:

        The cities are not car-free. They were built before cars, so they are not suited for convenient driving. The streets are narrow and parking is limited.

        There are still cars, but other modes are dominant, so you don’t get this whole attitude of motorist dominion we have here. If you want to cross 4 lanes of traffic in downtown Rome, you just start walking across the street. The drivers of cars and scooters accommodate you. They’re conditioned to pay that level of attention to their environment, to recognize and accommodate pedestrians.

  4. Laura M
    Laura M says:

    I live this everyday. Check my email on the bus on the way to work, while sipping my latte. One of the drawbacks of riding my bike to work would be having to give up my morning cup of joe, but I’d save a lot of money and calories. Actually, if I’d just get my lazy butt out the door earlier I could enjoy my cuppa and then head out for the morning ride.

  5. Doohickie
    Doohickie says:

    Getting back to the original point- that transit can be used to reduce texting while driving by getting the texters out from behind the wheel: This was the best part of the times when I could and did ride a bus to work. This is back in the days before cell phones, but I would read on the bus. I read a typical book maybe every two weeks or so. I loved that part of the day, in that it separated home from work and work from home. Convincing the masses that they could actually increase their social time by riding transit sounds like a brilliant idea.

  6. Doohickie
    Doohickie says:

    Going with Eric’s suggestion, I think the idea behind my post could be worked into an ad campaign, where a transit rider tells the driver, chaffeur style, “One more loop around the city, James” because he is too busy texting to get off the bus. Or something like that.

  7. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Every month I teach an Alternative Transportation course to about 50 people who’ve had their licenses suspended or were court mandated to take the course for some other reason. Far and away the top reason people give for not taking the bus here in metro Orlando is: “It takes too long.”

    And they’re not whining that it takes a few minutes longer. Trips that would take a half-hour (one way) in the car take up to 2 hours on the bus.

    Until our local governments get serious about funding transit, we will continue to have a woefully inadequate bus system. We have half as many buses as most comparably-sized metro areas, and Lynx has to cover more land area than every system in the nation next to New Jersey Transit.

    • Doohickie
      Doohickie says:

      It’s the same here in Fort Worth. I took the TRE (commuter train) from the Airport when I got back from a recent trip. From DFW Airport to Downtown Fort Worth in less than an hour; not bad really.

      I looked into taking a bus home. The 15-20 minute car ride would have taken an hour and a half on a bus. So yeah, you make a good point.

  8. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    I’ve had an unlimited use transit pass for three years now that lets me ride any bus or train anywhere in DFW. I have yet to ride any bus anywhere. It’s not because I haven’t looked, but invariably, either there is no bus service to where I want to go, the bus connection with the TRE Commuter train involves very long waits, or the trip is unworkable for some other reason. What’s more, even the light rail has only been ridden by me once in that time. That ride was mainly because I had some time to kill and wanted to see what it was like.

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