Public transportation generally has the reputation of being the preferred means of travel for working class commuters. Public transportation is meant to be a cheaper alternative for those who cannot afford other means of travel whether it be to a workplace or to a school and then back to their respective neighborhoods only to start the cycle the following day. This is a logistically difficult task when considering the number of people and infrastructure that must be established in order to successfully facilitate the movement of this volume of people. Routes must be carved out and stops must be carefully designed at the proper intervals to accommodate all commuters. Timing must be carefully orchestrated so that capacity matches demand and that at any one time there are not too many or too little vehicles working to carry people. Then, there is the matter of hiring operators to and drivers to operate the vehicles and engineers and technicians to oversee the trains, buses, tracks etc. that are involved in this undertaking. Public transportation may then seem like an expensive venture for the public to fund; however, the only thing more expensive than having these crucial structures in place is not having them.
Access to readily available transportation is necessary for an economy to run. If we think of occupations that can only be completed by workers at their places of employment, it becomes clear that workers have to have the means to be at their workplaces in a reliable and timely manner. If it ever becomes more expensive for labor to reach its destination than to remain at home, the entire economy becomes incapacitated; the economy loses some productivity. To this end, public transportation should try to cover as much area as is possible, while simultaneously servicing areas with the most need. It makes more logistical sense to service the areas where there are no other means of travel over others in the event that there are not enough public resources to go around. For this reason, public transportation has developed the reputation of being for the working class.
Because I am working at SACTWU, I have had the opportunity to take advantage of Cape Town’s public transportation system in the MyCiti bus system. The MyCiti buses are very clean and arrive reliably to their stops at their scheduled times, and honestly one of the best examples of public transportation that I have ever experienced. However, MyCiti buses also service a select number of neighborhoods, most of which already have households with other available means of transportation. Rather than having stops in the Cape Flats, a working class area, MyCiti is most visible in higher class neighborhoods like Hout Bay and Camps Bay. I myself only have to walk a couple blocks to my conveniently located stop in Tamboerskloof, another well off area with households that have cars. This specific public transportation system — interestingly enough — seems to be more a signal of wealth and high status than of working class communities.