This weekend I relied on four train routes (run by the MTA, NJT, SEPTA and Amtrak) to get me where I was going with minimal help from cars, and it was an empowering feeling. Sometimes I miss driving, living in the city, but most of the time I'm glad that I can sit back and get places without having to give it 100% of my focus. And it's nice to not have the hassles associated with a car: insurance, rising gas prices, tune-ups, random chunks of metal taking out your radiator, etc. Public transit is indeed a public good, as it allows many of us to forgo owning a vehicle.
Unfortunately we have many leaders today who are acting upon the swim-alone-or-sink mentality when it comes to trains and buses. Now, I'm all for fiscal responsibility, but we shouldn't treat the groups that run these operations like disposable widget makers. We have to work together to keep these systems intact because they're a vital part of our country.
What can you do to support public transit? Vote with your feet. Choose trains, buses and the like whenever the option is available and reasonable. The more we use them, the higher chance there is that the people running the show will realize how much of a hurt they'd cause if they withdraw their support from transit systems. It's not a guarantee, but by avoiding the systems, we only give public-transit opponents more fodder to complain about them being a drain on public coffers. I'd love to see a day when we could start weening transit systems more off public money, but in the meantime, let's not kill the engine while the train is midway across the bridge.