• Public transportation is any transportation service that is available to, and shared by, large numbers of people. 
    The most popular forms of public transportation are bus, ferry, rail, and metro. Many urban areas have more than one public transportation system, creating an interconnected network.
    Use this GeoStory to explore a few public transportation systems around the world. 
    “Questions” in the following tab can guide students in thinking about public transportation in their own communities.
    1. Why do you think public transportation systems are more popular in urban areas than rural areas?

      Urban areas are more densely populated: There are many more people in a much smaller area. This means that many people are probably traveling a short distance to get to the same place. Public transportation saves time and money by reducing the number of cars on crowded streets and highways.
      • Time: Commuters are not stuck in traffic, wasting time and gas.
      • Money: Fees for using public transportation are probably less than it costs to maintain a vehicle and parking space.
      Rural areas are more sparsely populated: There are fewer people scattered across a larger area. Public transportation would not save time or money in a rural area.
      • Time: Streets and highways are less crowded, so commuters probably don’t spend time sitting in traffic.
      • Money: Fees for using a public transportation system would probably not be significantly less than maintaining a car and parking space. Fewer people using public transportation would also mean the fees for using a public transportation system would probably not cover the cost of constructing and maintaining it.
    2. Why do you think buses are a much more common form of public transportation than metros?

      Buses are much, much less expensive and time-consuming to construct and maintain than metros. 

    3. If your community does not have a public transportation system, do you think it would be a good idea? Why or why not?


      If you think it would be a good idea, what public transportation system (bus, ferry, train, or metro) do you think would be most useful? Why?

      Answers will vary! Think about your community—its landscape, economics, and population.
      Think about the landscape:
      • do commuters spend time and money navigating around a river or lake?
      • is there a small downtown area where many people travel short distances to work?
      • are roads and highways constantly busy? This could be because of traffic congestion or the presence of natural or man-made barriers (such as mountains or buildings) that restrict the flow of traffic
      Think about the economy:
      • are traffic and parking fees costing commuters time and money?
      • is the local or regional community willing and able to invest in constructing a public transportation system?
      Think about the people:
      • what forms of transportation are commuters using now? If they are not using cars, would a public transportation system impact their commute? (Would pedestrians lose footpaths? Would bicyclers lose lanes?)
      • are commuters willing to give up the independence of having their own vehicle?
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ferry Noun

    boat or ship that transports people, cargo, and goods across a waterway.

    interconnected Adjective

    connected with one another.

    metro noun, adjective

    subway or train used for public transportation.

    network Noun

    series of links along which movement or communication can take place.

    public transportation Noun

    methods of movement that are available to all community members for a fee, and which follow a fixed route and schedule: buses, subways, trains and ferries.

    subway Noun

    underground railway; a popular form of public transportation in large urban areas.

    transportation Noun

    movement of people or goods from one place to another.

    urban area Noun

    developed, densely populated area where most inhabitants have nonagricultural jobs.

    Encyclopedic Entry: urban area