Transportation systems are what support the high levels of accumulation and concentration within cities. The bigger the city, the more complex its urban problems are if not properly managed. The largest transportation problems occur when public transportation systems fail to fulfill the many requirements of urban mobility. Urban efficiency is highly dependent on its transportation systems to move consumers, labor, and goods from one point to another. The most outstanding urban transportation issues in the United States are: traffic congestion, longer commuting, inadequacy of public transport, green transportation difficulty, and good distribution (Rodrigue).
Many of these problems occur because of the United States’ dependency on the automobile. Statistics show that when given the choice, individuals prefer using an automobile due to its convenience, comfort, and speed. Also, it is shown that many households have more than one automobile (U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey). Automobile dependency is caused by underpricing and planning and investment practices by cities (Rodrique). Because the automobile is the most commonly used method of transportation, cities tend to allocate all the money for transportation to improve roads and parking areas for automobiles (Radziner). This causes funding for other transportation methods to be pushed to the side. Also, consumers do not bear the full price of driving automobiles because most road infrastructures are subsidized. This causes overuse and congestion. Congestion occurs when the demand for transportation surpasses the supply. Not only does excessive use of the automobile affect congestion and traffic circulation, but it also leads to a decrease in the efficiency of public transportation.
As cities become more spread out, the cost of building and operating public transportation increases. Also, in automobile dependent cities, public transportation systems now seem less convenient in supporting urban mobility. The more decentralized the city, the more expensive and difficult it is to supply public transportation. Urban transportation is usually a public good, which means that there is a low economic return, giving less incentive for cities to improve upon it. This is mainly due to the fact that most public systems do not charge based on distance – it is flat fare (NYMTC).
Despite these public transportation issues, there are signs that the United States is moving towards less automobile dependency. With the current high gas prices, the younger generation is looking to public transportation as a more viable option (Rodrigue).
The census shows that the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, my city, is actually denser than that of the New York Metropolitan Area. Even so, Los Angeles’ public transportation system is not as up to par or prevalent as Manhattan’s. Transportation has been a major problem in Los Angeles for many years. There are too many private cars and...