Disclosing the fears and stereotypes of public transportation February 5, 2015 — by Allison Lin and Vibha Seshadri In Saratoga, most students are chauffeured to school by parents until sophomore year and receive cars when they obtain their licenses. Because we are rarely forced to travel by any mode of public transportation on a daily basis, many of us disregard the idea even when travelling longer distances. Junior Nina Harris frequently takes the Caltrain from the Peninsula up to San Francisco by herself. Upon arrival, she switches to Bart and Muni around the city to get to different places. “It’s so much easier than driving,” said Harris, who also obtained her driver’s license a few months ago. “I try to avoid using public transportation during the night time, but even then, nobody has ever bothered me.” Harris has grown increasingly aware of all the different options and routes that she is able to take to get from one place to another. On the topic of safety, Harris has never run into any issues she considers serious thus far, especially during the day. “Even though you see weird things sometimes, public transportation is there for a reason and everyone should learn the basics before going off to college,” Harris said. “If you ever need it, employees working the system will step in when you call for help.” At Saratoga High, upperclassman roll into school in fancy cars and others park their bikes — few students ride a bus to school. Whether this is due to limited public transportation in Saratoga or the misconstrued perception of it, students heading to college in large cities and people interested in increasing eco-friendly actions toward the environment must get rid of ridiculous assumptions that public transportation is unsafe. In Saratoga, most students are chauffeured to school by parents until sophomore year and receive cars when they obtain their licenses. Because we are rarely forced to travel by any mode of public transportation on a daily basis, many of us disregard the idea even when travelling longer distances. A more open mindset toward public transportation in high school would prepare students for the type of transportation they are likely to use in college as well as encourage the improvement of Bay Area’s public transit system. Because Saratoga is a conservative, wealthy suburban community, most young people are sheltered from city life and enjoy the luxury of owning a car. By contrast, students in San Francisco don’t have the option of driving and finding parking. However, even SHS students will benefit in the long run from having experience with using BART or Caltrain. Saratoga already has bus stops near the school, Jake’s Pizza and West Valley College, so students should take advantage of this resource and use it to gain experience. Students who are new to public transportation should be aware of their surroundings, learn the names and times of their rides and avoid drawing attention. If these precautions are exercised, then traveling by public transportation should be a safe and efficient way of commuting. In addition, a greater use of public transportation decreases each person’s ecological footprint and can sometimes maximize personal time and cost efficiency. In Saratoga, a relatively small city with little traffic, people can get around by driving, biking or walking. This, however, may not be the case in the cities that students move to for college, such as the heavily populated and polluted Manhattan or Boston areas. In many of those cities, college freshmen without the luxury of a vehicle may be limited to taking the train or subway to get to venues which are far from their residences. Getting comfortable with public transportation systems before moving to new cities would reduce the level of stress and fear that students may feel. If people were to use the public transportation system in the Bay Area on a more regular basis, they would see its value. In addition, if more people used public transportation, the number of falsely negative rumors spread about it would decrease since any ideas about it would be based on experience.