How Popular TV Programming Portrays Public Transportation

By Emy Louie. Edited by MM.

Transit friendly neighborhood in Baltimore

Note whether the following television shows are set in mass-transit friendly neighborhoods:

Shows that take place in towns with adequate density of development to support mass transit: more than twenty (20) residences per acre.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood takes place in a neighborhood likely in Pennsylvania, with both apartments and single family houses.

Located somewhere in New York City, Sesame Street takes place at a brownstone, a two-story apartment with a daylight basement, a total of three levels.  Specifically, the Robinson family lives on the first floor; the Rodriguez family lives on the second floor and Bert and Ernie live in the basement.

Transit friendly neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Chuggington takes place likely in the United Kingdom.  The six main characters, Wilson, Brewster, Koko, Hoot, Toot and Piper, who are rail cars, connect the commercial city center to the countryside, which include the farm, safari park and quarry.  The commercial city center, by mere fact of the tall buildings in the background, holds more than sixty (60) commercial units per acre.

Shows that take place in towns with inadequate density of development to support mass transit: more than twelve (12) residences per acre.

Family Guy likely takes place in Rhode Island and The Simpsons take place in a residential neighborhood in Springfield.  The two settings show about eight (8) residences per acre.  In a somewhat ambiguous setting, Peter Griffin lives close to the city, as tall buildings show up in the background of his house.  So Family Guy could have good public transportation or not.

King of the Hill takes place in a North Texas town of single family houses with large front yards, about four (4) to eight (8) residences per acre.

A show where transportation is left to the imagination or left out all together.

Shows such as Dora the Explorer feature a ferris wheel, meaning that there should be multitudes of people, but where do the people come from?  Or how do the people get to the Ferris wheel?

Something to observe next time you see a show.  Does the show take place in a town with adequate density of development to support mass transit?

Another takeaway is that Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood presents the most ideal physical density, from an urban planning standpoint, for a middle American town, not too dense and not too sprawled out as to be overly automobile-dependent.

Another takeaway is that Peter Griffin from Family Guy, Homer Simpson from The Simpsons and Hank from King of the Hill would likely drive to a large parking facility, such as at an airport or a park-and-ride facility, in order to connect to a public transportation network.

The final takeaway is Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson have the chance to get more public transportation in their neighborhood.  One of the streets in their neighborhood can become a retail/office corridor with locally owned businesses and with a bus feeder line that connects to a larger public transportation network.

The neighborhoods depicted in Family Guy and the Simpsons  present opportunities for more walkable communities.  For residences in automobile-dependent neighborhoods, there should be opportunities to drive to a parking facility which connects to a strong public transportation network.

To live more sustainably, connect to a strong public transportation network!

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One Response to How Popular TV Programming Portrays Public Transportation

  1. Pingback: Reading Digest: Crossover Art Edition « Dead Homer Society

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