This is an interesting article to me for several reasons. First it shows how the subjective perception of one form of transportation over another affects one’s feelings about its use, which in turn can affect social norms and attitudes.
New STM Logo
People who use public transportation don’t see the small public contribution they make by not using a car. I would surmise that they prefer to see the glass as half-empty: that they don’t have the financial resources to buy and operate a car, and therefore taking the bus is a “bummer.”
I also assume that most users of public transportation ignore the fact that car ownership is glamorized and heavily promoted in TV, radio and print media as the “best” and “most fun” way to go from point A to point B.
However, I lived in California for 15+ years and had to drive incessantly. No matter what you needed, you had to get in your car and drive several miles. Just visiting a friend was often a full day affair of planning two 45-minute one-way trips. Of course, the popular image of sunny California here in snowy Montreal is that it’s the land of milk and honey. While that may be true in a mythic sense, it is really a vastly over populated and crowded place that is quickly getting trashed like the rest of America.
So, shortly after arriving in Montreal and discovering the convenience and ease of using the bus and metro system, I sold my car. What a joy it is to be on foot and knowing that I am not fully supporting an unsustainable way of life. The sustainability of the Bus and Metro systems can be debated, but it is surely more sustainable than the happy-motoring myth told to us for the last 80 years by the oil, tire, and auto industries.
Source: Montreal Gazette
It seems like a no-brainer – leaving your car at home and going to school or work by bus is a good move for the planet.
Apparently it’s not clear, even to public-transit users.
When the Société de transport de Montréal met with focus groups to ask users what they did for the environment, most people said things like recycling. But public-transit users, even those who took the métro or bus twice a day five days a week, didn’t see that as a plus for the planet, Denise Vaillancourt, the STM’s head of planning, marketing and communications, told a national public-transit conference yesterday.
The STM saw an opportunity to get people to think about transit in a new way, and increase its ridership, and help to meet Montreal’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent over 2002 levels by 2012. The agency, which runs Montreal’s bus and métro services, radically changed its approach to attracting new clients: In its marketing campaigns, it started linking public transit to a greener, cleaner planet.
“When we want to differentiate between cars and public transit, it’s clear that public transit is a better choice for the environment,” Vaillancourt said in an interview.
The agency realized that it had a lot of work to do to educate its current and prospective customers about how using public transit can reduce pollution, improve air quality and cut greenhouse gas emissions. It rebranded itself in the spring as a green alternative, and began highlighting its own efforts to operate sustainably – using biodegradable soap to clean buses, recycling fluorescent light bulbs and using new bus driving techniques to save fuel.
Its advertising on bus shelters, the sides of buses and on métro platforms made the environment-transit link – how a bus full of people is the equivalent of taking 50 cars off the road, or that the métro has run on electricity since 1966. The STM also created the societyinmotion.org website, where people could learn about sustainable travel, and comment on the agency’s environment-related activities.