By Trevor Klaus
No score, and one day ago, I was in the wonderful country known as England. This country, along with many others in the world, is home to many cities with many great things to do in each of them. The United States of America shares a similar trait to that of England, housing some of the world’s most interesting cities and places. However, the experiences in these cities, and the experiences getting there, are vastly different. These differing experiences in traveling lead to a clear distinction between the two countries when it comes to visiting either.
To begin with the United States, my homeland is a vast canvas which is home to many different climates. Whether it be the cold, arctic Alaska, the tropical Hawaii, to the deserts of Arizona, the mountains of the Rockies and Appalachia, there are climates and landscapes for everyone in the United States. In England, there is a lot less of a difference from one end of the country to the other. While the south of England is definitely hotter than the north, England as a whole experiences fairly mild temperatures year round. These similarities in climate certainly contribute to less of a variation in the landscape.
However, why are the climates and landscapes in England similar throughout? There are two main contributors to this. The first one would be England’s relative size. In comparison to the United States, England is significantly smaller in terms of geographic area. The smaller the area of the country, the lesser the difference in climates at the ends of the country. The second reason for this is the fact that England is on Great Britain, a relatively small island surrounded by the ocean. This total surrounding leads to an overall milder climate, and thus less variation from the north to the south.
The United States is a much larger country in terms of geographical size than England. It spans from sea to shining sea on the North American continent, while England is one of three countries on an island in western Europe. However, the country is landlocked to the north and south (with the non-mainland exceptions of Alaska and Hawaii). The United States is roughly a little less than 40 times bigger in square kilometers than all of the United Kingdom, which England is only a part of. This paves the way for there to be more variations in the things I have previously mentioned. These differences in land specifically also partially change the way transportation is done between the two countries when visiting either.
There is definitely a difference between traveling in all of England and traveling in all of the United States. As previously mentioned with the geographic size, one could easily travel around all of England in one day. With my BritRail pass, I was able to travel from Edinburgh in Scotland, down the entire east coast of England to London in about five hours, eat lunch in London, hop back on the train about three hours north to Manchester and enjoy my evening back in the northwest of England. This type of travel around the United States can simply not be done due to the massive size of the United States. For example, it took my mother and sister nearly a day and a half of nothing but driving to get from Michigan to Montana, two states that are in the middle of the country, and relatively not close to the coasts. It is also worth noting the comparison is not entirely direct between the two due to the United States’ lack of decent public transportation, but that is an argument for the next paragraph.
Public transportation is another thing that widely differs between the two countries. In England and the United Kingdom as a whole, public transit is available pretty much anywhere you need to go. Whether it be the aforementioned trains, the bus system, or the various subway or tram systems within most of the major cities, the United Kingdom has many ways to get a person where they need to go. This is in stark contrast to the United States, as with the notable exception of New York City, the public transport system is virtually non-existent. Any transport systems for people who do not own a car are run by private companies, leading to the use of more cabs within American cities in comparison to their English counterparts.
The public transport system may not be practical for America though, for there are many roadblocks to implementing something similar to what England has. Lets first begin with the train system. Going back to the geographic size debate, it would likely simply cost too much for the United States government to construct a rail service all around the country. Whatever England paid to construct their rails would have to be multiplied by around 40 in order to reach every part of the country assuming the topography of the two countries were similar. But they are not. The United States again has mountain ranges that England simply does not have, and it would be extremely difficult for the government to construct a safe rail through the Rockies and Appalachia. The last major roadblock to this would be the practicality for the consumer of actually using a rail service. While it would likely be cheaper to use than a flight, would a consumer really spend what would likely take a full day on a train from New York to Los Angeles to save around a hundred bucks, when they could get there in about six hours by train? Time would tell on that one, but the doubt surrounding it is part of the reason no such system would be built.
The trams within cities is what is more baffling to me that the United States doesn’t have, although I can understand the reasoning behind it. For one, most of the cities in the United States were designed with roads in mind, thus allowing for automotive transportation within cities once cars came along. In the case of Detroit, the tram system known as “The People-Mover” is extremely limited as the American auto makers want to keep incentivizing people to purchase cars (particularly, theirs).
In the end, England and the United States have many geographical and climate differences. It is the differences that have in part shaped the way each country transports its people within it.