Solo Commuting Is So Uncool

| 12/26/2007 4:43:37 PM

“Local governments need to think of ways to force commuters out of their cars,” writes Erin Sherbert in the Silicon Valley weekly MetroActive. One way, Sherbert boldly suggests, is for public transit to mount “a progressive public relations campaign” that basically makes drivers look like a bunch of selfish jerks.

“We put smokers on the fringe and that’s had an impact,” Kent Bausman, associate professor of sociology at Maryville University in St. Louis, tells Sherbert. “You can follow the cigarette example, have ad campaigns demonizing cars, saying it’s a bad steward of the environment.”

Public transit proponents might already be fighting an uphill battle. A recent survey of more than 2,000 Washington, D.C., area commuters conducted by a graduate student at George Mason University found that “people who drove to work alone were more emotionally satisfied with their commute than those who rode public transportation or carpooled with others.”

It follows then that a bunch of satisfied drivers would be unlikely to switch to a public transit commute they consider less pleasant—at least without some (or perhaps a lot of) prompting and prodding. Bausman says the idea to make ads slamming solo commuting “is ripe for the picking, to make mass transit look cool and a civic responsibility.”

Jason Ericson

12/30/2007 11:32:17 AM

Most drivers ARE a bunch of selfish jerks - that's evidenced by the way they drive and treat those they 'share' the road with. So, labeling them as such may not make an impact. I agree with Cait on putting a positive spin on public transportation. Alas, no witty terms come to mind.

Donald Smithies
12/29/2007 7:23:39 PM

Public transit was once the way of life for most of us and it could be again. What is needed is more than an ad campaign. It is a serious attempt by each city with the assistance of senior levels of government to make transit more convenient and cheaper. Most cities do not, especially the smaller and medium sized ones. We have also encouraged such sprawl in the suburbs and rural areas that are now not served by any form of rail or express transit, that it will be hard to find a way out of that situation. But it is possible and many other countries are finding ways.

12/29/2007 7:11:54 PM

I believe it is time for positive campaigns around public transit. A bus driver friend of mine calls it "the looser cruiser", and then there is "the proletariat chariot". Why not a positive spin like the "greener carreener" or something more catchy? Recently there has been a huge billboard campaign on the exterior of our transit system here in Victoria BC warning of transmitting germs while using transit and telling people to wash their hands. The does not make me want to climb aboard. So, I challenge one and all to come up with nifty catchy terms for taking public transit.

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