Public Transportation, Equality, and Human Rights

Over the past year and a half, it's never been more clear how essential public transportation is to the function of everyday life. Unfortunately, not everyone has easy access to public transportation, and many Americans are left without any good options for getting around.

Below, you can read about the ongoing debates surrounding the question of public transit access. These issues are far from resolved, and data is still being gathered to help inform the discussion. 

In the meantime, you can rely on your McAllen public transit system to get you where you need to go.

Wealth Distribution and the Distribution of Mobility

When we ask questions about inequality, we usually look at the issue of wealth distribution. While wealth might be a driving force behind inequality, it fails to paint a full picture of the problem. 

Another essential resource that is limited for low-income individuals is mobility.

Public transit can be the key to economic freedom for low-income individuals. Having the ability to travel for work makes a big difference in the types of employment you can get, and having more options helps workers negotiate for better conditions. 

While each of us may be free to go anywhere we like in the country, many Americans only have the ability to travel small distances away from their homes. On the other hand, for some low-income workers, public transit is available but too poorly maintained to be a feasible option for commuting.

The Importance of Public Transit, By the Numbers

According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), investments in public transit can have major long-term impacts on local economies. A 2020 APTA report states that a 20-year investment in public transit would theoretically result in the following outcomes:

  • $5 billion in additional GDP for every $1 billion invested

  • Additional GDP includes $3 billion in cost savings due to increased productivity

  • For every $1 billion invested, public transit helps create 49,700 jobs

Another important thing to remember when looking at these numbers is that, in 2014, the APTA estimates were less than half of those listed above. According to the association, this is a sign that the cost-saving effects of public transit are increasing over time.

Is Public Transportation a Human Right?

There is no one way to answer the question, “is public transit a human right?” This is because there are countless factors to consider. For instance, while public transit may not be a human right to some, those who lose access to public transportation may also lose their ability to access necessary services, like medical care.

This can be especially true for residents in rural communities. Despite the fact that fewer people are living in rural areas than ever before, ridership in these areas actually increased by nearly 8% between 2007 and 2015. If these riders lose access to transportation, they may be left with no mobility at all. 

Equity in Public Transit

Finally, whether or not public transit is a human right, it should function as a bridge between communities, not a dividing wall. Due to the fact that public transit systems are habitually underfunded by most local governments, most systems cannot cover all of the areas that residents need to access. 

When cutbacks happen in public transit systems, low-income and minority neighborhoods are often the first to lose service. According to human rights activists, this is a lingering effect of the sort of segregation brought under question in the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case that brought about mixed bussing.

Helping Our Community Stay Connected

At Micro and Metro McAllen, we are dedicated to helping all McAllen residents gain greater mobility and economic freedom. This means making sure that our services are available to as many residents as possible.

Getting to work or the grocery store shouldn’t take a miracle or a favor. To get where you need to go in McAllen, schedule your own Micro rideshare or plan your bus route today.

Learn more about our bus system or schedule your Micro McAllen rideshare today on our site or app.

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