Synopses & Reviews
Taras Grescoe rides the rails all over the world and makes an elegant and impassioned case for the imminent end of car culture and the coming transportation revolution
"I am proud to call myself a straphanger," writes Taras Grescoe. The perception of public transportation in America is often unflattering—a squalid last resort for those with one too many drunk-driving charges, too poor to afford insurance, or too decrepit to get behind the wheel of a car. Indeed, a century of auto-centric culture and city planning has left most of the country with public transportation that is underfunded, ill maintained, and ill conceived. But as the demand for petroleum is fast outpacing the world's supply, a revolution in transportation is under way.
Grescoe explores the ascendance of the straphangers—the growing number of people who rely on public transportation to go about the business of their daily lives. On a journey that takes him around the world—from New York to Moscow, Paris, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Bogotá, Phoenix, Portland, Vancouver, and Philadelphia—Grescoe profiles public transportation here and abroad, highlighting the people and ideas that may help undo the damage that car-centric planning has done to our cities and create convenient, affordable, and sustainable urban transportation—and better city living—for all.
"Getting there might be half the fun, but it's also a point of serious consideration in the latest from journalist Grescoe (Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood). Chronicling his voyage around the world to research different transit systems, Grescoe covers cities from Paris to Portland, Ore., examining the ways our means of transport affects how we function as a community. His exploration of the different aspects of train travel abroad as compared to the U.S. suggests how transportation tension can be quelled through better service. His illustrations of the benefits of bike travel in Copenhagen and Montreal show how bike riding merges health and environmental perks with emotional benefits. The crucial point is enunciated by a University of Tokyo professor of urban transport: 'The kind of lifestyle you want to have in the future depends on your values, your way, your decisions; whether you are willing to pay more money to support public transport.' While the book raises intriguing points about public transportation reform, it proves one-sided in its argument, and a contrary reader can't help pondering the difficulty of implementing automobile alternatives on a large scale. However, Grescoe presents a strong and timely argument for moving metropolitan motorists away from their cars. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary Agency. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Taras Grescoe is the award-winning author of four books and countless articles focusing on world travel. He's written for The New York Times, The Times (London), Wired, the Chicago Tribune Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. He currently lives in Montreal. He has never owned a car.