I went to Philadelphia, PA and rode the SEPTA Regional Rail and Subway systems and never rented a car. The system that I rode was great access to where I wanted to go, I visited friends on the Regional Rail lines or used the subway to zoom across the city to various places.
But a many things worried me. Philadelphia and SEPTA seems to have destroyed most of the subway feeder trolley lines, relying on buses, (I never took one, I hate buses and would rather walk 2 miles), and the system is using itself up in deferred maintenance and lack of capital improvements, devolving into a crumble of decomposing concrete, bridge rust, jury rigged fixes, shaky power and aging equipment and the detritus of trash on the rail lines is something to behold. The regional rail train speeds seemed pretty slow, maybe due to the old rolling stock and the rough track or occasional mound of trash falling onto the railway. The subway speeds were fast enough but the track did not seem smooth at all and the cars swayed a lot on some stretches.
I then looked at I-95, the freeway that ripped through Philadelphia and cut the Delaware River front off from the city, lots of new concrete and steel, overpasses, interchanges. I looked at the airport, other freeways and state highways in the area that were new construction. Resources have obviously been drained from transit over many decades. Is this different from any other mass transit system in the entire country. Basically no, almost every transit system in the USA is neglected and in rough shape with the wheels about to come off.
When I came back to St Paul, MN, Governor Pawlenty vetoed his own budget proposal for Light Rail Transit between St Paul and Minneapolis, (the separated siamese twin cities), cut existing bus transit money and put more highway bridges, freeways and stadiums into the budget. Who will drive on this infrastructure to the private billionaire benefiting stadiums when gasoline goes to $6-8 per gallon or more? In a couple years the Iraqastan war recession will kick in and make the post Vietnam destruction of the US city look like a walk in the park. No money will be available for transit and the huge maintenance for freeways and bridges will not be able to be paid. It will be too late to expand the transit system and there will be hard choices on which freeways to close down.
Note: The financial crash came in September 2008, about 7 months after I wrote this article, I was off a bit in my prediction.