Home » Past Questions » Reading » A total of 10 questions are based on the following passage and supplementary mat...

A total of 10 questions are based on the following passage and supplementary mat...


A total of 10 questions are based on the following passage and supplementary material.

This passage is adapted from Taras Grescoe, Straphanger:
Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile. ©2012
by Taras Grescoe.

Though there are 600 million cars on the planet,
and counting, there are also seven billion people,
which means that for the vast majority of us getting
around involves taking buses, ferryboats, commuter
5 trains, streetcars, and subways. In other words,
traveling to work, school, or the market means being
a straphanger: somebody who, by choice or necessity,
relies on public transport, rather than a privately
owned automobile.
10 Half the population of New York, Toronto, and
London do not own cars. Public transport is how
most of the people of Asia and Africa, the world’s
most populous continents, travel. Every day, subway
systems carry 155 million passengers, thirty-four
15 times the number carried by all the world’s airplanes,
and the global public transport market is now valued
at $428 billion annually. A century and a half after
the invention of the internal combustion engine,
private car ownership is still an anomaly.
20 And yet public transportation, in many minds, is
the opposite of glamour—a squalid last resort for
those with one too many impaired driving charges,
too poor to afford insurance, or too decrepit to get
behind the wheel of a car. In much of North
25 America, they are right: taking transit is a depressing
experience. Anybody who has waited far too long on
a street corner for the privilege of boarding a
lurching, overcrowded bus, or wrestled luggage onto
subways and shuttles to get to a big city airport,
30 knows that transit on this continent tends to be
underfunded, ill-maintained, and ill-planned. Given
the opportunity, who wouldn’t drive? Hopping in a
car almost always gets you to your destination more
35 It doesn’t have to be like this. Done right, public
transport can be faster, more comfortable, and
cheaper than the private automobile. In Shanghai,
German-made magnetic levitation trains skim over
elevated tracks at 266 miles an hour, whisking people
40 to the airport at a third of the speed of sound. In
provincial French towns, electric-powered streetcars
run silently on rubber tires, sliding through narrow
streets along a single guide rail set into cobblestones.
From Spain to Sweden, Wi-Fi equipped high-speed
45 trains seamlessly connect with highly ramified metro
networks, allowing commuters to work on laptops as
they prepare for same-day meetings in once distant
capital cities. In Latin America, China, and India,
working people board fast-loading buses that move
50 like subway trains along dedicated busways, leaving
the sedans and SUVs of the rich mired in
dawn-to-dusk traffic jams. And some cities have
transformed their streets into cycle-path freeways,
making giant strides in public health and safety and
55 the sheer livability of their neighborhoods—in the
process turning the workaday bicycle into a viable
form of mass transit.
If you credit the demographers, this transit trend
has legs. The “Millennials,” who reached adulthood
60 around the turn of the century and now outnumber
baby boomers, tend to favor cities over suburbs, and
are far more willing than their parents to ride buses
and subways. Part of the reason is their ease with
iPads, MP3 players, Kindles, and smartphones: you
65 can get some serious texting done when you’re not
driving, and earbuds offer effective insulation from
all but the most extreme commuting annoyances.
Even though there are more teenagers in the country
than ever, only ten million have a driver’s license
70 (versus twelve million a generation ago). Baby
boomers may have been raised in Leave It to Beaver
suburbs, but as they retire, a significant contingent is
favoring older cities and compact towns where they
have the option of walking and riding bikes. Seniors,
75 too, are more likely to use transit, and by 2025, there
will be 64 million Americans over the age of sixty-
five. Already, dwellings in older neighborhoods in
Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Denver, especially
those near light-rail or subway stations, are
80 commanding enormous price premiums over
suburban homes. The experience of European and
Asian cities shows that if you make buses, subways,
and trains convenient, comfortable, fast, and safe, a
surprisingly large percentage of citizens will opt to
85 ride rather than drive.

(1 of 10) What function does the third paragraph (lines 20-34) serve in the passage as a whole?


It acknowledges that a practice favored by the author of the passage has some limitations.
It illustrates with detail the arguments made in the first two paragraphs of the passage.
It gives an overview of a problem that has not been sufficiently addressed by the experts mentioned in the passage.
It advocates for abandoning a practice for which the passage as a whole provides mostly favorable data.

The correct answer is A.


Choice A is the best answer. While the author predominantly supports the use of public transportation, in the third paragraph he recognizes some limitations to the public transportation system: it is a “depressing experience” (lines 25-26) and “underfunded, illmaintained, and ill-planned” (line 31).

Choices B, C, and D are incorrect because the third paragraph does not expand upon an argument made in the first two paragraphs, provide an overview of a problem, or advocate ending the use of public transportation.

More Past Questions: