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The automobile and mass transportation (part II)

In many western European countries, postwar automobile growth was constrained by government policies, which heavily taxed both cars and their fuels. Mass transportation systems were maintained and expanded with government subsidies, and public policies kept central areas strong suburban growth in carefully designed higher-density nodes, in some cases (particularly in Britain and Sweden) in the form of systematically designed new towns linked to older central cities by high-quality mass transit lines. In less-developed parts of the world, mass transportation was shielded from automobile competition by the inability of citizens to afford cars and by government policies that kept both automobile and gasoline prices high.

The analogue to the automobile for the mass transportation industry was the motor bus, a self-propelled vehicle operating on the highway. Buses were introduced into mass transportation services in the 1920s. Like the automobile, they offered operating in the short term, to route street obstructions, and in the long term, to be shifted easily into new areas needing service. By the 1960s in the United States, the bulk of urban mass transportation services were operated with buses. Some lines serving downtown areas were operated as express services, picking up and discharging travelers at the ends of the routes and skipping intermediate stops to provide faster travel. While buses offered economy and flexibility to operators, they brought important disadvantages. Operating on city streets mixed with other traffic, they could not travel faster than cars, and, because they made frequent stops, they were usually slower. This problem can be avoided by operating express buses on freeways or special lanes and roadways reserved for high-occupancy vehicles. When the demand for bus service increases, addition of more vehicles requires additional drivers, which makes operating costs increase as fast as rider ship. As a result there is less advantage to be gained from serving high-density corridors with buses compared with trains. This problem has been reduced by using larger buses—double-deck vehicles in Europe and longer, articulated buses in both Europe and the United States.

Because bus routes are so flexible, builders do not have the same incentive to locate developments near bus lines, which may be rerouted on short notice, as they do to locate near rail lines.

The 20th century began with rapid growth in transit service in the United States. Transit riding has consistently moved with the state of the economy, growing during the boom period after World War I and dropping during the Great Depression, when unemployment was high. World War II saw a large increase because employment was high and automobiles were scarce. The steady decline after the war shows the impact of growth in automobile travel and the migration to the suburbs.

Since the 1970s, a considerable amount of federal and state money has been directed toward improving and extending mass transportation systems, and rider ship has increased in response. The population of the United States has grown steadily over the 20th century, and the fraction of people living in urban areas increased to nearly 70 percent, and therefore the urban travel market as a whole has grown considerably. The mass transportation, however, has declined substantially during the latter half of the 20th century.


II. Look through the text again and answer the following questions:

1. What favorable circumstances towards mass transportation were in less developed parts of the world?

2. Why did the government of the postwar Europe collect taxes from cars and their fuels?

3. What kind of transport was the analogue to the automobile?

4. What disadvantages brought buses on the roads? What was the situation?

5. What service was introduced in the United States in the beginning of the 20th century?

6. Where has a considerable amount of federal and state money been directed to?


III. Match the words with their definitions and make up your own sentences with these words:

1. to constrain a) the choice of roads taken to get to a place;

2. to shield b) stimulating, provocative, exciting;

3. transit c) the vehicles coming and going in a street, town,etc.;

4. disadvantage d) rarely encountered, insufficient;

5. route e) another name for expressway, a major road;

6. incentive f) occurring or situated between two points, places;

7. intermediate g) to compel or force, esp. by persuasion;

8. traffic h) the passage or conveyance of goods or people;

9. freeway i) an unfavourable circumstance, thing, person etc.;

10. scarce j) to cover, defense or protect;


IV. Read the following statements and discuss them with a partner:

1. Mass transportation systems were maintained and expanded with government subsidies.

2. Because of gasoline and automobile high prices there was an inability of citizens to afford cars.

3. The analogue to the automobile for the mass transportation industry was the motor bus.

4. When the demand for bus service increases, addition of more vehicles requires additional drivers.

5. As the population increases the urban travel market grows considerably too.

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