Subway systems in the cities of New York and Washington, D.C. are integral to the cities continued economic health and well-being. The United States, which at one time led the world in public transportation has fallen woefully behind other nations. For instance, Japan, Germany, and France have developed high speed trains that are safer and more reliable than the trains used by the subway systems of New York and Washington, D.C. “Japan introduced high-speed rail transportation the earliest. In October of 1964, [the Japanese City of] Shinkansen started to operate, [without any accident fatality], creating a kind of miracle in world high-speed rail operation. According to data in 2011, total distance of Shinkansen routes reached 2500 km [1553 miles] representing 9 % of the nation’s rail mileage, and ⅓ of the tourists” (Xinqiang, CUI, FU Jia, ZHOU Xiaolan, DAI Juan, and LIU Jing, 2014, p.1806).
Subway Travel Safer Than Driving
In this project, it was revealed that the subway systems of New York and Washington, D.C. have experienced numerous accidents over the past several decades. These accidents resulted in a number of fatalities and injuries. Nonetheless, subway travel is still safer than driving on America’s highways. “Looking at traffic fatalities per mile traveled in the U.S., analyst Todd Litman found that riding commuter or intercity rail is about 20 times safer than driving; riding metro or light rail is about 30 times safer; and riding the bus is about 60 times safer. Factoring in pedestrians and cyclists killed in crashes with vehicles, the effect is smaller but still dramatic” (Schimitt, 2014, p.1). So then, this fact underscores a real need to increase funding for public transit projects. The United States has, and continues to increase funding to build more roads and bridges. Without a doubt, we must maintain our roads and bridges; but we must strike a balance between highway funding and mass transit funding. Increasing funding for safer and more reliable subway systems in New York and Washington, DC. will achieve the following: 1) Give an incentive to commuters to take the subway; 2) Make highways less congested, thus reducing traffic related fatalities; and 3) Enhance the safety and efficiency of the subway systems of New York and Washington, D.C.
Safe and Reliable Mass Transit: A Civil Right?
Most people who use mass transit in New York and Washington, D.C. do so because they probably can’t afford to operate an automobile (or prefer not to operate one). Thus, the funding inequity that is faced by the subway systems of New York and Washington, D.C. (as well as other major U.S. cities) could be considered a civil rights issue. These citizens, many who can’t afford to own and operate an automobile, nonetheless deserve a safe and reliable system to transport them to their jobs, places of worship, and recreation venues. Therefore, to provide equity to every citizen, the mass transit systems (especially the subways) of the nation’s large urban cities need massive amounts of funding to elevate them to the world-class status seen in France, Germany, and Japan. Thus, for this to occur, it will require a coalition of representatives from both parties; and taxpayers of all racial groups to band together for the good of the nation as a whole.