Written and produced by DAVID FREUDBERG in association with WGBH/Boston
Most people in metropolitan areas face choices when we travel — to go by car or to use public transit? These decisions have a huge impact on our wallets, on the environment and on our quality of life.
Listen now or download our four half-hour Passengers documentaries free (mp3 files). World-class experts, colorful personal stories (including winner of the month-long Car-Free Challenge) and cool stereo sounds of trains!
Going places? Try Google Transit, an amazing free resource. Just enter where you're starting from, where you're going and when. It will give you train, bus, bike and pedestrian options for 448 cities!
This carbon calculator helps you determine how much you could reduce your weekly carbon emissions (associated with climate change) to the extent you switch from cars to using public transportation.
- Check out interesting studies on the greenhouse gas emissions of transportation, the frustrating problem of traffic congestion, 7 crazy public transportation stories compiled by the Huffington Post, and tons more.
- Learn about other 'Humankind' programs on the environment from climate-friendly dietary choices to green spiritual congregations.
- Send us an email with your public transportation stories – or to comment on the 'Passengers' programs. We'll post some comments online.
- Share on Facebook
and help spread the word about transportation choices.
Mike Janssen, Associate Producer. Train Photo by Chris Henchey
Free audio (half-hour segments) of the Passengers public radio series from Humankind. Listen with links below or via iTunes:
Part 1: The story of a Virginia man who accepted his county's "challenge" to go car-free for a month; plus voices of motorists filling up at the pump; bus riders in a low-income neighborhood and others.
Part 2: Business people and environmentalists come together: improved public transportation helps to grow the economy, for lots of reasons. Bankers and the Sierra Club on the same side.
Part 3: What is the global warming footprint of cars vs. public transit? Story of a family seeking a low-carbon lifestyle. Also, hear the views of transportation experts, the president of AAA, and others.
Part 4: Gas taxes you pay at the pump go into a huge pool of federal transportation funds. How should the money be divided up? Plus high-speed rail, pro and con.
MBTA Silver Line Neoplan dual-mode bus at South Station.
Interesting Articles, Sites and Photos
- The 7 Crazy Subway, Bus, and Public Transportation Stories compiled by the Huffington Post features singers, pantsless riders, and the White Stripes on a bus.
- Todd, the commuter we featured in Passengers, took part in Arlington County, Virginia's Car Free Skeptics challenge. Learn more about the county's Car Free Diet here.
- A proposed transit system for a high-tech, zero-carbon-emitting city in the United Arab Emirates would have been quite innovative, as Singularity Hub reports. Too bad most of the plan was scrapped due to high costs. Check out another Singularity Hub feature, this one about a train that is able to run nonstop by carrying a removable shuttle on its roof.
- Enjoy the spookily hypnotic quality of old-timey car ads (Ford, Oldsmobile 1, Oldsmobile 2) as preserved on the Internet Archive. You are getting sleepy ... you want to buy a shiny new car the size of a boat ...
- Check out some interesting photos of public transit vehicles in different settings.
- Historical images of Brooklyn public transportation, from the Brooklyn Public Library.
- Flickr groups for transit photos:
- Much of the recent political momentum behind public transportation in the U.S. has been gathering behind high-speed rail — particularly for the Northeast, where the proximity of population centers may make high-speed rail more viable. Not everyone agrees that Amtrak should lead the effort, but the railway corporation laid out a plan in September 2010 (PDF) detailing its vision of Northeast high-speed service.
- Read about the effects of automobile emissions, summarized by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Richard Rodriguez, Chicago Transit Authority president
DePaul University student riders
M.P. Carter, Memphis Area Transportation Authority
Prof. Robert Cervero, UC/Berkeley urban planning chair
Larry Hanley, Amalgamated Transit Workers president
Betty Turner, Bank of America, Natalie English, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce
Matt Maryl, Apollo Alliance
John Inglish, Utah Transit Authority CEO
Web Extra! Coming in May.
American Public Transportation Association. — Find out about the American Public Transportation Association. Locate public transportation in your community, share your story, and more.
- Climate Change and Transit — Transportation is the second-largest source of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. This Federal Transit Administration study (PDF) compares public transit’s CO2 emissions to those of private autos and discusses how other measures such as transit-oriented development (TOD) can be even more beneficial to the environment.
Economist Chart showing gas taxes — Drivers in the United States pay far less in gas taxes than do drivers in at least 15 other countries. This chart on The Economist’s website lays out the data.
- Environmental Defense Fund — Learn about innovative transit systems, car-sharing, greener freight and “smart policy”
Top 10 Bizarre Public Transportation Ideas — Ziplines, one-person taxis and paved tubes for bikers? Yes, these are among the Top 10 Bizarre Public Transportation Ideas compiled by Green Chip Living.
- Urban Mobility Report — Traffic congestion frustrates drivers, wastes time and uses up gas. The Texas Transportation Institute, the leading authority, totals up the damage in their annual Urban Mobility Report -- which gives a picture of the full impact of congestion on our environment and our lives.
||We also recommend:
| The Green Economy
As environmental visionaries see it, the future of energy is not in greenhouse gas-emitting fuels like oil and coal – whose supply is running out -- but in sustainable, non-global warming sources like wind and sun and waves from the ocean and in the enormous storehouse of heat that naturally occurs deep underground. For a limited time, this show is available to listen to free of charge.
| Urban Naturalist
Urban naturalist Mike Houck, based in Portland, Oregon, works to preserve the integrity of green spaces in cities because they provide access to nature "where people live" and also play an important ecological role.
| Frances Moore Lappe
Frances Moore Lappe, author of "Hope's Journey" as well as the classic "Diet for a Small Planet," discusses her work over more than three decades to raise public awareness about the need to improve systems of global food distribution.
| Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Who was Francis of Assisi and why is he relevant to us today?
What secrets do the mysteries of nature hold?
| Healthy Planet, Healthy People
Cultivating the crops for animal feed involves tremendous energy use, from pumping water to producing fertilizer. Thus, becoming a vegetarian can significantly reduce a person's "carbon footprint" -- the amount of greenhouse gases their lifestyle is responsible for. For a limited time, this show is available to listen to free of charge.
| Green Congregations
Rev. Sally Bingham of San Francisco, lay organizer Steve MacAusland of Boston and members of a concerned church discuss the movement for a religious response to climate change that has spread to more than 4,000 U.S. congregations.