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Public transportation in North America varies greatly from place to place. Some large cities like New York, Boston, Toronto and Montreal have subway systems. These same cities usually also have train service into the city. But most towns and cities do not have subways or trains. Some do not even have buses. Most big cities have some sort of public bus service. In most North American cities, people who use the buses complain about poor service. This is partly because most people prefer to drive a car. Automobile companies spend billions of dollars on advertising. They want to convince young people that they should drive a car as soon as they are old enough. Even when public transportation is very good, most North Americans prefer to drive cars. So mostly students, poor people and seniors use buses. The large car companies have a lot of economic and political power in North America. They can usually convince politicians to limit the money put into public transit. Lobbying by large car companies has been effective in closing down many railway lines. In some cases, large corporations have bought train tracks, and torn them up so that no one could use them again. Because of this, nearly all transportation in North America is by car, bus or truck. The automobile created the modern North American city. Cars allowed families to live outside the city and drive back in to work. Since the 1920s, large numbers of Americans have lived in the suburbs, and used cars to do nearly all their daily activities. People drive to school, to work, to the shopping mall, to the theatre, to church and to doctors, lawyers and dentists. Because the modern city is so spread out, it is difficult to get where you want to go by walking, or even by bicycling. But the automobile also causes problems. Car accidents are a major cause of death and injury. Crowded streets and snarled traffic can lead to road rage. Frustrated drivers sometimes get out of their cars to fight each other. Young people often use cars as super toys. They enjoy driving very fast and take risks while driving. A high proportion of serious accidents concern drivers using alcohol or drugs. More recently, some people have accused cell phones of being a cause of accidents. About half of the air pollution in North American cities is caused by motor vehicles. The exhaust fumes from cars and trucks are part of this. The other part is that vehicles erode the surface of the highways. Small particles are torn loose from the road and thrown into the air as cars whiz by. Heavy trucks are particularly large contributors to particle pollution. Especially in hot weather, a layer of smog covers many cities. Much of this is caused by motor vehicles. Because city roads are often crowded, the result is frequent traffic jams. When cars are moving very slowly, bumper to bumper, it adds to air pollution. Another problem with cars is that not everyone can afford one. The average car costs nearly $20,000 to buy, and about $4,000 a year to operate. So cars are also a status symbol. People with cars tend to move out of the city. As a result, downtown areas are usually where the poorer people live. For a long time, many people have said that governments should try to make downtown areas more attractive to live in. This would include improving public transit, into and inside, the cities. Then some people may move back from the suburbs. And air pollution levels will decline. Right now, the large automobile companies and oil companies oppose these measures. Recently, there have been cuts to public transit in many cities. Whether these cuts continue, or whether they get reversed, is a big political issue in North America today.
For senior citizens (= older people, especially those who have retired from work)
Get one third off rail fares with a senior rail card.
Someone who is over 60 years old or who is retired
WORD FOCUS: old PEOPLE:
a polite word used to describe someone who is old
middle-aged aged between about 50 and 60 years old
senior citizen/senior American English/pensioner British English/retiree American English someone over 60 who has stopped working
senile old and mentally ill
ancient, geriatric, be getting on, be past it, be over the hill, be no spring chicken informal words and expressions used to describe someone who is old, often used humorously
geriatric: geriatric medicine, care, hospitals etc are for old people
ancient: ancient civilizations, cities, buildings, traditions etc existed many hundreds of years ago
prehistoric: existing many thousands of years ago
antique: antique furniture, jewellery etc is old and often valuable
An elderly person; especially: one who has retired
Synonyms: ancient, elder, geriatric, golden-ager, oldster, old-timer, senior
Antonyms: youngster, youth
Lobbies, lobbying, lobbied, lobbied [transitive, intransitive]
Lobby (somebody) (for/against something)To try to influence a politician or the government and, for example, persuade them to support or oppose a change in the law
Farmers will lobby Congress for higher subsidies.
Women’s groups are lobbying to get more public money for children.
To try to persuade the government or someone with political power that a law or situation should be changed lobby for/against
The group is lobbying for a reduction in defence spending.
Lobby somebody to do somethingWe’ve been lobbying our state representative to support the new health plan.
1to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation
2to attempt to influence or sway (as a public official) toward a desired action
Examples of LOBBY
An organization that has been lobbying for reform of the tax laws
The health-care industry has lobbied against the proposal.
An organization that has been lobbying Congress for reform of the tax laws
A player who has lobbied hard to be included in the team’s starting lineup
I lobbied our company for a new computer.
The stopping of work, especially permanently, in an office, a factory, etc.
If a company, shop etc closes, or you close it, it stops operating permanently [= shut down; ↪ closed]:
We have reluctantly decided to close the factory.
The shop closed down some time last year.
An instance of suspending or stopping operations
Examples of CLOSEDOWN
Ordered a closedown of operations until the cause of the mine explosion could be determined
Synonyms: arrest, arrestment, cease, cessation, check, close, end, closure, conclusion, cut off, discontinuance, discontinuation, ending, expiration, finish, halt, lapse, off set, shut down, shut off, stay, stop, stoppage, surcease, termination
Antonyms: continuance, continuation
Torn up (the past participle of tear up)
Tear something upTo destroy a document, etc. by tearing it into pieces
Synonym: rip something up
She tore up all the letters he had sent her.
He accused the leader of tearing up the party’s manifesto (= of ignoring it).
To remove something from the ground by pulling or pushing it violently:
The remains of trees that had been torn up by the storm
To damage, remove, or effect an opening in
tore up the street to lay a new water main
To involve somebody/something in a situation that stops their movement or progress; to become involved in a situation like this
The accident snarled up the traffic all day
Snarl upBritish English to prevent traffic from moving:
Traffic snarled up on both sides of the road
1: to cause to become knotted and intertwined : tangle
2: to make excessively complicated
A situation in which a driver becomes extremely angry or violent with the driver of another car because of the way they are driving
Violence and angry behavior by car drivers towards other car drivers:
Road rage seems to be on the increase.
A road rage attack
A motorist’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior
To make somebody feel annoyed or impatient because they cannot do or achieve what they want
What frustrates him is that there’s too little money to spend on the project.
If something frustrates you, it makes you feel annoyed or angry because you are unable to do what you want:
The fact that he’s working with amateurs really frustrates him.
A part or share of a whole
Water covers a large proportion of the earth’s surface.
Loam is a soil with roughly equal proportions of clay, sand and silt.
The proportion of regular smokers increases with age.
A higher proportion of Americans go on to higher education than is the case in Britain.
A part of a number or amount, considered in relation to the whole Proportion
The proportion of women graduates has increased in recent years.
Every parent is asked to contribute a proportion of the total cost.
High/large/small etc proportion The decision affects a significant proportion of the population.
Although the majority of offenders are men, a small proportion – about 5 percent – are women.
The relation of one part to another or to the whole with respect to magnitude, quantity, or degree
Waste gases that come out of a vehicle, an engine or a machine
Car exhaust fumes/emissions
the gas produced when an engine is working:
Smoke, gas, or something similar that smells strongly or is dangerous to breathe in
To be overcome by smoke and fumes
Clouds of toxic fumes escaped in a huge chemical factory blaze.
The body of a man was found in a fume-filled car yesterday.
Strong-smelling gas or smoke that is unpleasant to breathe in:
1 [transitive, intransitive]
To gradually destroy the surface of something through the action of wind, rain, etc; to be gradually destroyed in this way
Synonym: wear away
Erode something (away)The cliff face has been steadily eroded by the sea.
Erode (away) The rocks have eroded away over time.
2 [transitive, intransitive] erode (something)
To gradually destroy something or make it weaker over a period of time; to be destroyed or made weaker in this way
Her confidence has been slowly eroded by repeated failures.
Mortgage payments have been eroded (= decreased in value) by inflation.
If the weather erodes rock or soil, or if rock or soil erodes, its surface is gradually destroyed: The cliffs are being constantly eroded by heavy seas.
The rocks have gradually eroded away.
Crashing waves have eroded the cliffs along the beach.
The shoreline has eroded badly.
Whizz British English; whiz American English [intransitive]
[Always + adverb/preposition] informal
a) To move very quickly, often making a sound like something rushing through the air: An ambulance whizzed past.
I saw a big piece of metal whizzing through the air.
b) To do something very quickly
Whizz throughLet’s just whizz through it one more time.
To fly or move swiftly especially with a whiz
cars whizzing by
Examples of WHIZ
The ball whizzed through the air.
Cars whizzed by on the highway.
He whizzed past us on skates.
She whizzed through the exam.
A long line of vehicles on a road that cannot move or that can only move very slowly
We were stuck in a traffic jam.
Usage note: DrivingHaving a car
(British English) run a car
Ride a motorcycle/motorbike
Drive/prefer/use an automatic/a manual/(North American English, informal) a stick shift
Have/get your car serviced/fixed/repaired
Buy/sell a used car/(especially British English) a second-hand car
Take/pass/fail a (British English) driving test/(both North American English) driver’s test/road test
Get/obtain/have/lose/carry a/your (British English) driving license/(North American English) driver’s license
Put on/fasten/(North American English) buckle/wear/undo your seat belt/safety belt
Put/turn/leave the key in the ignition
Start the car/engine
(British English) change/(North American English) shift/put something into gear
Press/put your foot on the brake pedal/clutch/accelerator
Release the clutch/(especially British English) the handbrake/(both North American English) the emergency brake/the parking brake
Drive/park/reverse the car
(British English) indicate left/right
(Especially North American English) signal that you are turning left/right
Take/miss (British English) the turning/(especially North American English) the turn
Apply/hit/slam on the brake(s)
Beep/honk/ (especially British English) toot/(British English) sound your horn
Problems and accidents
A car skids/crashes (into something)/collides (with something)
Swerve to avoid an oncoming car/a pedestrianCrash/lose control of the car
Have/be in/be killed in/survive a car crash/a car accident/(North American English) a car wreck/a hit-and-run
Be run over/knocked down by a car/bus/truck
Dent/hit (British English) the bonnet/(North American English) the hood
Break/crack/shatter (British English) the windscreen/(North American English) the windshield
Blow/ (especially British English) burst/puncture (British English) a tyre/(North American English) a tire
Get/have (British English) a flat tyre/a flat tire/a puncture
Inflate/change/fit/replace/check a tyre/tire
Traffic and driving regulations
Be caught in/get stuck in/sit in a traffic jam
Cause congestion/tailbacks/traffic jams/gridlock
Experience/face lengthy delays
Beat/avoid the traffic/the rush hour
Break/observe/(North American English) drive the speed limit
Be caught on (British English) a speed camera
Stop somebody for/pull somebody over for/(British English, informal) be done for speeding
(Both informal) run/(British English) jump a red light/the lights
Be arrested for/charged with (British English) drink-driving/(both US) driving under the influence (DUI)/driving while intoxicated (DWI)
Be banned/ (British English) disqualified from driving
A long line of vehicles on a road that cannot move or can only move very slowly: We were stuck in a traffic jam for two hours.
Bumper to bumper
Bumper-to-bumper traffic is very close together and moving slowly
Marked by long closed lines of cars
1 [uncountable, countable, usually singular]
The social or professional position of somebody/something in relation to others
Low status jobs
To have a high social status
Women are only asking to be given equal status with men.
She achieved celebrity status overnight.
High rank or social position
The job brings with it status and a high income.
3 [uncountable, countable, usually singular]
The level of importance that is given to something
The high status accorded to science in our culture
1your social or professional rank or position, considered in relation to other people high/low status low-status jobs
Doctors have traditionally enjoyed high social status.
2 respect and importance that someone or something is given [= prestige]:
The status given to education
Mandela’s status as a world leader
a : position or rank in relation to others
The status of a father
b : relative rank in a hierarchy of prestige; especially : high prestige
Examples of STATUS
They want to maintain the city’s status as a major tourist attraction.
He wants to improve his status in the community.
People of different social and economic statuses
She married a man of status and wealth.
This job brings with it a measure of status.
They sought asylum and were given refugee status by the government.
They are still considered refugees. Their statuses have not changed.