Transportation as Social Welfare
Vox has an interesting essay theorizing that transportation in America is horrible because we view it as a social welfare program instead of as a transportation, environmental, design, etc. program.
This is a point Leeesq has mentioned before and it seems true enough. San Francisco has very easy to find bus stops and light rail stops but you might not necessarily have a route that takes you from A to B easily. A trip might take two or three different buses with different wait times. The situation is more dire in places like Contra Costa and Marin counties. There are buses but they seem best used for trying to get into and out of San Francisco during the morning and evening commutes. If you need to take a bus during the middle of the day, you might be waiting a long time.
The Vox article notes that London charges more per a fare but cities have ways of keeping costs low per a ride for lower income people.
The question remains about how transportation got seen as a social welfare program above a social welfare service instead of as a transportation service and whether this pattern can be stopped.