Thursday, October 7, 2010

Public Transportation and Social Capital

A report by Jesse Sykes

We all know of the environmental benefits of taking public transportation.  It takes cars off the road, reducing carbon emissions.  But what about social capital?

I take the bus every week on Wednesday to my church to compensate for the fact that both my parents work late.  From my experience, the social capital in public transportation is fairly low.  The fact of the matter is that it's a huge bus and barely any people ride the bus.  Everyone is in groups of one, save for the occasional two friends riding together.  Sometimes there is someone sitting up front talking with the bus driver, but that is pretty much the limit of socialization on the bus.  The closest thing to that is someone talking loudly on their cell phone.

Nevertheless, I think social capital would increase if more people took public transportation.  If more and more people ride the bus, then more people would be forced to sit next to each other due to lack of seats.  The introverts on the bus would probably be squeamish, but if the extroverts are social enough, they'll get the introverts to talk.  Then there will be more socialization, increasing social capital.

So, when you get the chance, take some public transportation.  It may just increase social capital.

-- Jesse Sykes

Done on a Mac :-)


  1. This is interesting to me because i have never taken the bus. It does make sense though. i dont ever really hear of my friends taking the bus together. Usually just to get to where their friends are. I will have to try the bus sometime.


  2. My eyes are burnt. I did not know those things you said about tendencies of people taking the bus. In your last paragraph you give predictions, but you do not give reasons for them. Give reasons: they make it worth reading. Alex Sadosky

  3. I've never taken a bus and i think it would be interesting to see if i rode a bus if ppl would be outgoing and friendly or not say anything. Ive ridden in a packed subway in nyc and just because there are a ton of ppl doesnt mean they talk. In fact it seems just the opposite. But maybe it is different in North Carolina.

  4. I really liked your example of the bus scenario. It really gives me a vivid image of how social capital could work.


  5. this doesn't really surprise me... that people didn't talk to eachother on the bus. People usually don't make conversation in grocery line, ect... so why would they do it on a bus? usually if I try to make conversation with someone random... then they give me dirty looks and don't try to keep the convo up. hmmp maybe it's just me...

  6. That's kind of pathetic that no one talks to each other. I wonder if in the past people talked on buses more...