Jul 18, 2008

Making American Public Transportation Sexy

With gas prices rising higher and higher, more and more Americans are looking to public transportation as a viable alternative. The problem is that public transportation is decidedly unsexy in all but a handful of cities.

Which is something of a paradox: In New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia, commuter rail lines are the province of the upper middle class, transporting bankers, brokers, lawyers and advertising execs in and out of the city on a daily basis, and a suburban town’s location on an express rail line into the city greatly enhances the value of the local real estate.

But in other US cities, public transportation is viewed as decidedly downscale, a last option best left for people too poor to own a car. People are loathe to take it, regardless of gas prices, because it somehow seems tantamount to failure, a step away from homelessness.

So I’m throwing it out to you all: how can we make public transportation just as sexy in places like Atlanta and Los Angeles as it is in New York and Chicago? Is it something advertising, marketing and PR can affect? Or is it too big a psychological hurdle for most people to get over?

You’ve got a whole weekend to think about it.

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