I'm writing a report about public transport, and I'm not English, so I was wondering if anyone could help me with this: what is the correct way to use "public transport" in English?

For example:

Group x uses public transport to get from A to B
Using public transport comes with certain difficulties for group x
Group x finds the price of using public transport too high

Should I say "public transport" or "public transportation"?

Either is fine, "transportation" is used in more formal writings, but can be a bit of a "mouthful" if you mention it a lot, so I would suggest falling back to "transport".

Usually the first time you mention it in a sections (eg. book chapter) you would use "transportation" but from then on you can use them synonymously. Quite often people will mix it up just to add variety if the text is starting to look too repetitive but its not important which ones are which.

Ah so I can use either? Thanks for your advice =).

If you mention "public transport", the reader would understand that you mean "public transportation". If I was writing the paper, I would write it as "transportation".

"0-transportation" sounds even better

Member Avatar

"public transport" = "long wait" or "public transport" = "shite" or "public transport" = "good in theory" or "public transport" = "bankrupt if they were private"

In St Louis where I live ground public transport is very good -- trains and buses run every 15 minutes and are rather cheap compared to cost of driving. There is a train station about 7 miles from where I live, I can park there free, ride the train for $2.50 USD to the airport (about an hour's drive away). If I drove I couldn't even park my car at the airport for that fee, let alone pay the gas to get there. The train was first opened in 1993 and was an immediate hit with everyone. The system has 37 stations and carries over 57,000 people each weekday. People can ride the train free in the downtown area at lunchtime.

public transport > dying of air pollution

public transport > dying of air pollution

Maybe in your country, but not everywhere on Earth.

You can also use the term "public transit".

Member Avatar

Public transport is fine for your examples. Transportation is probably correct too, but it's not a term used / heard often. 'Transportation' in the context given, is a noun usually found on its own, rather than preceded with 'public', however it is often found with other adjectives. In the UK, 'public trasport' is the accepted term, however, it may be different in other countries. Are you targeting a specific country / region?

I'm not targeting a specific country, it is to be read in multiple countries in the EU, so this information is of a lot of help :). My basic English is fine (at least I hope so), it's just the stuff I don't read or speak everyday that I get unsure about. Thanks for your help everyone!

commented: kudos, english is about the weiredest language +0

In NYC it's called taking public transportation. I've never heard of "public transport". Transport is a verb, as in to transport something.

So that would mean that "public transport" is british english, and "public transportation" is american english?

Member Avatar

If you're targeting the EU, 'public transport' is what you should use IMO. Apart from Rep/Ireland and possible a few small enclaves, the only European 'standard English' is from the UK. Using US/Can/Aus/NZ terminology would be akin to somebody in the UK providing a Portuguese version of its Euro-centric site in pt_BR (or Spanish in one of the South American dialects). Anyway, UK English allows 'transport' as a noun:


the transport of live animals
The company will arrange transport from the airport.

UK (US transportation) a system of vehicles, such as buses, trains, aircraft, etc. for getting from one place to another:
the Department of Transport
investment in public transport (= buses, trains, etc. available for everyone to use)
Do you have your own transport (= vehicle)?
Bicycles are a cheap and efficient form of transport.

AD, you proved my point. The wikipedia article you linked to says:

Public transport (North American English: public transportation or public transit)

I've heard of public transportation and I've heard of public transit. I've never heard of public transport, and Wikipedia seems to agree with me that it's not North American English.

Nonetheless-- people who live in NYC are just weird :)


In NYC it's called taking public transportation. I've never heard of "public transport". Transport is a verb, as in to transport something.

Verbs can be used as nouns: see here
I think I'm beginning to agree with AD more and more... ;)

Well I've never heard of transport being used as a noun, personally.

I've heard of public transportation and I've heard of public transit. I've never heard of public transport

It's the same here, at least in my experience. I've also heard "public transport system" or some other similar term (transport as qualifier for a word like "system" or "administration", etc.).

Nonetheless-- people who live in NYC are just weird :)

I guess Canadians speak weird too ;) Well, that doesn't surprise anyone, does it?

And I guess by "people who live in NYC" you mean the entire north-east quarter... and the eastern half of Canada. That's probably what wikipedia calls "North American English". If I recall correctly, the technical term for all the other kinds of English in North America is "speech impediment"... Just kidding.. ;)

Transport is a verb, as in to transport something.

Well, "transit" is also a verb, as in to transit from one place to another. But, both transit and transport are both verbs and nouns, depending on the context. For example, consider a phrase like "the transport of goods is a lucrative business", clearly, "transport" is a noun.

All this confusion (transportation / transport / transit) is from the fact that these are words borrowed from French. And we all know how to solve that problem: stop using this frankenstein language we call English, and start using a proper language, i.e., French. ;)

BTW, in French, "transport" (noun) is the same ("transport"), "to transport" (verb) is "transporter", "transportation" does not exist, and "transit" is a transitive verb (which means it's pretty much only usable as a kind of adverb). I guess the Englishmen of the past took every word (and added a useless "-ation") and made them all usable in every context, they were just clueless. You see the same pattern all over the English language (especially in more "common-man" speech). In French, public transit is called "transport publique" or "transport en commun" (i.e., "communal" transport). This is probably why "public transport" is more common in the UK, whose English is usually closer to the original French. In a nutshell, to speak proper English, you need to learn French!

In a nutshell, to speak proper English, you need to learn French!

Hm that doesn't make writing this report much easier but thanks anyway :p.

BTW, in French, "transport" (noun) is the same ("transport"), "to transport" (verb) is "transporter", "transportation" does not exist,

@mike_2000_17 Le mot "transportation" existe aussi en Français , vous savez.(The word "transportation" exists also in French, you know) In fact half, if not more of the English words are derived form French, due to this event

@ddanbe Thanks for that, I had never heard the word "transportation" used in French, but apparently it's a synonym of "deportation" (or expatriation), it's a super arcane word. I know that the Belge have a nick for using arcane words (like septante / octante / nonante), have you ever heard that word being used?

In fact half, if not more of the English words are derived form French

Yeah, and the other half is mostly a mix of Old Norse and later Scandinavian languages. Being a native French and Swedish speaker, there are very few words in English that I cannot easily tie to one or the other language roots. I think only about 5-10% of English words are native to the British Isles. The last I checked, I think the ethymologic distribution of English is about 10% native (celtic, gaelic, etc.), 20% Old Norse, 25% Old Scandinavian (or Old Danish / Swedish), and the rest (45%) is French. And there is also a surprising amount of Old German in the French language, so the lines get blurry at some point. But the English grammatical structures are almost exclusively Scandinavian... thank goodness they didn't adopt too much grammar from French!

That's not so surprising since, according to wiki (which is a final authority of all subjects :) ) England was populated about 30,000 years ago and has been conquered by a lot of different people/nations.

@ mike_2000_17: 70,80 and 90 in Belgian-French is septante,quatre-vingts and nonante.
Switzerland-French uses huitante for 80.
In French-French and Canadian-French this would become soixante-dix, quatre-vingts and quatre-vingt-dix (This last one is 4 times 20 and 10 : almost hexadecimal in a way!) You love French or you hate it. BTW my native language is Dutch!

Member Avatar

Going slight off-piste with this one aren't we guys? Anyway, English is a mongrel language and has assimilated the majority of its words from countless others as already mentioned. Its rules of grammar and spelling (if you can even imagine such a thing) are ridiculous. Very few of its words are still recognizable from the original Anglo-Saxon.

As I'm sure ddanbe will know the Dutch were the masters of the printing press and totally changed the spelling on hundreds if not thousands of English words, especially the '-ough-' all over the place. Internationally, problems have been compounded by Noah Webster and his ilk for simplifying English spelling for the poor colonists of the Americas, so that they could participate in their high school spelling bees.
I'll stop there, I feel a rant coming on. I don't know why, as I don't have any particular fondness for the English language anyway. I tend to agree with Mike, I'd welcome Français as la lingua franca - it sounds way küler, even if you need a PhD in arithmetic to be able to count to a hundred.

Anyway @mini - it's transport

We are indeed way off-piste! But then again, why not use Latin as "lingua franca" as all scientists and clergy man did in the Middle-Ages? I once had an Excel version, with all the macro commands translated in Dutch! Pure horror believe me! I had to write "IF" as "ALS". I am certain that the "lingua franca" in the IT-world will for ever be English. Although we always have to watch out for a German invasion even tonight in football in London I believe!

LMAO! At first I thought that (German Invasion) was a serious article, but soon found out it was just satire. Brilliant.