The last mile is always toughest for public transit

Ernest D’Ambrose is a member of Suffolk County’s Next Generation Council, where he serves on the Quality of Life and Health committee

Driving down the Long Island Expressway, I look up at the LED sign saying, “Air Quality Action Day, take public transportation.”

I genuinely want to do my part, but can I really afford to triple my commute time? Even if I decide, yes, I want to contribute in keeping Long Island’s environment clean with the use of its public transportation system, I still need to access it.

What is a reasonable explanation for the last mile? The last mile, or even the first mile, is a predicament that has limited public transportation use for the suburban and rural communities here since its inception. From my door to my transport, I’m on my own. I need to get a ride to the bus stop or I need someone to pick me up for the train.

Prior to the arrival of ride-sharing apps, the Long Island taxi companies had been left unchecked. Long wait times and overcharging were the result of no true alternative, and these services often had no quality or pricing control.

Transportation here should not be limited to individuals driving themselves in personal vehicles. As our future changes, our communities must respond with building infrastructures that allow continued growth. We need to address the problem of the last mile.

This can be done either through governmental expansion of public transportation services or through the market. Suppressing demand is a sure bet on pushing out populations that do not want to own a car. Car ownership may have been a dream of the past, but then again if you asked someone in 1914 what do they want in a vehicle, they probably would have said a faster horse.

The question that remains in my mind is this: Does having to use a personal vehicle to access public transportation ruin its appeal?