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Poll: Top 3 Reasons Why You Don’t Ride Public Transit?

December 1, 2013 Featured, Public Transit, Sunday Poll 11 Comments
The #11 (Chippewa) MetroBus on 14th next to Peabody
The #11 (Chippewa) MetroBus on 14th next to Peabody

Fifty-eight years ago today a forty-two year old Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama:

The Montgomery City Code required that all public transportation be segregated and that bus drivers had the “powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus for the purposes of carrying out the provisions” of the code. While operating a bus, drivers were required to provide separate but equal accommodations for white and black passengers by assigning seats. This was accomplished with a line roughly in the middle of the bus separating white passengers in the front of the bus and African-American passengers in the back.

When an African-American passenger boarded the bus, they had to get on at the front to pay their fare and then get off and re-board the bus at the back door. When the seats in the front of the bus filled up and more white passengers got on, the bus driver would move back the sign separating black and white passengers and, if necessary, ask black passengers give up their seat.

On December 1, 1955, after a long day’s work at a Montgomery department store, where she worked as a seamstress, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus for home. She took a seat in the first of several rows designated for “colored” passengers. Though the city’s bus ordinance did give drivers the authority to assign seats, it didn’t specifically give them the authority to demand a passenger to give up a seat to anyone (regardless of color). However, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the custom of requiring black passengers to give up their seats to white passengers, when no other seats were available. If the black passenger protested, the bus driver had the authority to refuse service and could call the police to have them removed.

As the bus Rosa was riding continued on its route, it began to fill with white passengers. Eventually, the bus was full and the driver noticed that several white passengers were standing in the aisle. He stopped the bus and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row and asked four black passengers to give up their seats. Three complied, but Rosa refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, “Why don’t you stand up?” to which Rosa replied, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” The driver called the police and had her arrested. Later, Rosa recalled that her refusal wasn’t because she was physically tired, but that she was tired of giving in.

The police arrested Rosa at the scene and charged her with violation of Chapter 6, Section 11, of the Montgomery City Code. She was taken to police headquarters, where, later that night, she was released on bail. (Biography.com)

The bus was so full of white passengers the driver wanted Parks to stand. In 1955 more of the general (read: white) population rode public transit compared to today.  Increased car ownership and decentralization of regions has changed who does — and doesn’t ride public transit.

For the poll this week I’m asking for the top 3 reasons why you don’t ride public transit — as your primary mode. One answer in the poll is that you do ride, I’ve also provided a field for you to submit your own answer. The poll is on the top of the right sidebar in the desktop view.

— Steve Patterson


Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. Andrew Schlichting says:

    For me, the biggest reason that I don’t ride the bus to work is the cost. Not so much the fare, but the cost of a longer commute. The my driving commute takes 15 minutes while the bus commute takes 45. That adds up to an extra hour of time away from home a day or potentially 260 hours of overtime.

    I love having the option of taking public transit, my car has a habit of not starting in the winter, so it’s nice to have the option. However, for an everyday commute, it just doesn’t make sense.

  2. guest says:

    I don’t take public transit because…”I’m white”? Seriously? What kind of choice is that?

  3. Chuck says:

    I took public transit when I worked downtown. My current position is in Maryland Heights. Taking public transit would take 2 hours each way in the best case– it would involve taking a bus to metro, transferring metro lines, and then taking another bus. Driving takes 20 minutes.

    It would be great to have better transit coverage but metrolink/metrobus only works for particular commutes.

  4. guest says:

    Some choices you could have offered: Not as convenient as a car; not as fast as a car; not as easy as a car; not as flexible as a car, etc. Most people don’t take public transit because it’s nowhere near as convenient, fast, and flexible as taking their own car. Add more routes, add more buses and trains, make it compete with the convenience of a personal car at a lower cost and people would flock to public transit, regardless if they are white or black; gay or straight; able-bodied or disabled.

    • NL7 says:

      Owning a car is costlier than riding the bus, and requires substantial up-front cash or good credit. So the fact that car ownership is so popular suggests that lots of people agree with your sentiment – it’s faster and more convenient, and therefore worth thousands of dollars.

  5. RyleyinSTL says:

    1) Waiting for the bus most of the year in STL, out in the sun, in the humidity, makes for a perspiration situation not compatible with the business casual attire required at work (This could be a me-only problem…as I have spent most of my life north of the 49th parallel).

    2) While I enjoy interacting with people it seems to me that there is a higher than usual number of crazy people riding the bus/LRT than I encounter in most other aspects of my life. There is the gentleman trying to sell me socks, the lady screaming at her imaginary daughter, the family that never bathes, the 30 something Librarian who kicks people out of “her” seat, and the shifty guy who I’m certain is carrying a firearm. These are the daily regulars.

    3) Travel time is an issue as well. I live about 3 miles from work and the bus increases the commute twofold.

    Saying that, I do use transit on occasion, particularly the LRT. The wife and I will use the park n’ ride for a hockey or baseball game or I will sometimes park at the Medical School and take the LRT top the airport.

  6. NL7 says:

    STL buses don’t go where I need to go. I live downtown. Either I have to take the 99 “trolley” to the transit center, or I have to be ready to get dropped off far from my destination. There are buses from where I live to CWE and Soulard, but for where I want to go I need to be ready to walk a half mile at the front end or the back end. I still use metrolink (and bus), but it makes them inconvenient.

    And the trips just take forever, not to mention all the waiting at the stops. And if you need to transfer, then that adds to the time.

    It’s much easier to join carshare. Rent a car in 15 minute increments, plan things out to minimize idle time and avoid traffic, and you can save lots of money versus cabs or car ownership, and not spend too much more than metrolink. Far faster and more convenient than metro for trips out to Richmond Heights or Chesterfield or whatever. And it actually goes where you want, instead of just somewhere within a half mile of where you want.


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