字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 This video was made possible by Skillshare. Learn anything, including how I make these videos, for free for two months by going to Skl.sh/wendover. This is Indiana, and this is Scotland. Both have a similar number of inhabitants, a similar size, and a similar population density. But here's Indiana's public transportation system, and here's Scotland's. You want to get to Cupar, a town of 9,000 30 miles from the capital? That'll take you 55 minutes on a train that leaves every 30 minutes or an hour and 40 minutes on a bus that leaves every 40. You want to get to Anderson, a town of 50,000 30 miles from Indiana's capital? Well, you're out of luck. The only option is the car. Antiquated technology, safety concerns, crumbling infrastructure, and nonexistence—it's not hard to argue that the US public transportation network is just not good. Vast swaths of the US have no option but to drive because the alternative just is not there. This has consequences on the environment, on economic mobility, on where people live, the consequences of America's lack of solid public transportation almost defines American culture. But it wasn't always like this. The United States once had the best public transportation system in the world. It was a the admiration of countries worldwide and an essential factor allowing for the successful western expansion of the country. It all started with this—the horsecar. Now, there were urban transportation systems before these horse drawn trams came along, but they weren't cheap and they weren't fast. Roads generally weren't paved and there just wasn't the economic demand for high frequency service because these carriages were rarely faster than walking. But on rails, these horsecars were fast and one horse could pull a full load of passengers thanks to the rails. In its heyday, there were over 6,000 miles of horsecar lines in the US. In comparison, the combined mileage of every tram, subway, light rail, and commuter rail system in the US nowadays is 5,416. In 1880, 50 million people lived in the US. Today, over 320 million. Around the turn of the century, many of those horsecar systems were electrified. There were then 11,000 miles of streetcar track nationwide. The systems were absolutely everywhere. Even tiny towns like Bangor, Maine and Berlin, New Hampshire had streetcars. So what happened? How did the US go from having 11,000 miles of streetcar to 200? How did the US go from having solid public transportation in towns big and small across the country to how it is today? The decline of the streetcar began just after the turn of the century. That was when the automobile came around. By 1920, the car was starting to get to an attainable price-point for the everyday individual. That was the real threat for the streetcar—not cars, but economical cars. The streetcar received another blow in 1929—the great depression. There were fewer people with jobs which meant fewer people who needed to commute and fewer people who had the money to pay for transport so many lines were just not profitable anymore and closed. But then the streetcar received a stay of execution—World War Two. You see, during World War Two, the US had the lowest unemployment rate in history—as low as 1.2%. There were tons of factory jobs to support the war so practically everyone who wanted a job had a job. That meant there were tons more people now going to and from work, and, even better for the streetcar, there were rations going on on rubber and gas which diminished the popularity of the car. But something else was going on through all of that. Something more sinister. Sometime in the 1920s, automobile technology became advanced enough that the bus became cheaper to operate than the streetcar. Streetcars cost very little to power, but they do require a lot of infrastructure from overhead lines to track. Buses were more flexible and required almost no infrastructure. And the bus had some powerful friends, the automobile companies, or more specifically, General Motors. General Motors went and bought dozens of small streetcar companies across the nation and turned them into bus companies. They removed hundreds of miles of track across the US and supported other companies doing the same, but its not like they didn't have a good reason to do this. These streetcars were not economically advantageous. Buses were faster, cheaper, and at the time, they were the modern and fresh transportation method that the public wanted. Nearly every streetcar system nationwide was replaced with a bus system. In addition, the streetcar companies were almost all commercial so if and when they failed, many local governments set up public, subsidized bus companies. So that's how transportation got bad, but why did it stay bad? Well, mostly because of the car. America is the country of the car. It grew up as the car grew up and so its cities were built for cars. Think Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles—you can't survive in these cities without a car. Remember, the United States is centered around the idea of personal freedom. With a car, you can go anywhere at anytime, so politically, cars have historically been associated with the idea of personal freedom. Just like the Republican party votes to have strong national defense, allow gun ownership, and preserve small government in order to promote personal freedom, they have always worked to promote the usage and ownership of cars. This means they often voted in favor of subsidies helping the auto industry, most often in the form of indirect subsidies lowering the cost of gas. Now, that was fine when cities were small, highways were new, gas was cheap, and climate change wasn't even a concept, but that's not the case anymore. Cities are just of a size where they literally cannot support their entire population driving. You can't fit more road infrastructure in many cites, but you can fit more public transportation. Cars were available to the common American much earlier than the common European, so the US set road policies early that allowed for large, smooth, well-functioning roads. While the US was building its magnificent roads, Europe was building their public transportation systems. The high car usage in the US even has to do with zoning. You see, European cities tend to have less strict zoning laws which allow for businesses and housing to intermingle. The US zones its cities much more strictly. Houses are next to houses and businesses are next to businesses which means that the distances between houses and shops in the US is much greater. Therefore, Americans have to go further more often. The most demonstrative fact is how the two places approach parking. In the US, zoning laws specify a minimum number of parking spaces per building. In Europe, the laws specify a maximum number of parking spaces. The three cities with the three lowest car-ownership rates in the US all have something in common. Boston, New York, and DC, are all old, rather compact cities with decent public transportation systems. Since they were cities before the car, they're built much more like the European cities that have such good public transportation systems today. Simplified, public transportation gets worse as you go further west since western cities are newer. But here's the most important sentence of this entire video: access to transportation is the single most important factor in an individual's ability to escape poverty. That is not a subjective claim, that is a fact that emerged from a Harvard study. Someone who lives right by a subway stop is astronomically more likely to find a high-paying job than someone who doesn't have a way to get around. Individuals in poverty generally live in poor neighborhoods with few job opportunities, but with reliable, accessible, and inexpensive public transportation these individuals can get all across their city to where the jobs are. So, a good way to evaluate the effectiveness of a public transportation system is by how well it serves the poor. DC, for example, does a good job of this. The poorest neighborhoods have the greatest proportion of their residents within a 10-minute walk of a metro station while the richest neighborhoods have the smallest proportion. Hand-in-hand with their move back into the cities, millennials are shunning cars. Car ownership among young people is at historic lows and the urban youth is relying more and more on public transport. Some cities like, Portland, Kansas City, Detroit, and DC are turning back to streetcars. Done right, streetcars can drive huge increases in economic development. They're more of a symbol of modernization that entices residents, developers, and businesses to areas. Portland, for example, has had an estimated $5 billion in extra economic development thanks to its streetcar. New streetcar systems are being built all across the US in cities like Milwaukee and Oklahoma city since they're finally making money again—not from their fares, but from the jobs brought by their existence. People didn't want them a century ago, but streetcars finally make sense again. Public transportation is instrumentally important to the success of cities. You can almost be sure that a good city will have good public transportation and a bad city will have bad public transportation. Public transportation increases economic mobility, decreases carbon footprints, and increases economic development so the only question is, why not build more of it? One of the most common requests I receive is for a behind-the-scenes video and I've finally made one. I've partnered up with Skillshare to post it on their platform. The course is mainly geared to people who already do or want to create their own videos but it should be interesting for anyone. If you're not interested in that in particular, Skillshare has over 16,000 classes about pretty much anything and everything which you can watch from anywhere including when you're offline by using their IOS or Android apps. An annual membership gives you unlimited access to their classes for less than $10/month, but the first 500 people to sign up over at Skl.sh/wendover can learn whatever they want on Skillshare for free for their first two months including my behind-the-scenes course which is also linked in the description.