The built form of cities in the American South has largely been defined and determined by the automobile. Achieving greater environmental sustainability, transit ridership, and social justice has thus often been a challenge in these cities. Two Southern cities: Charlotte, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia, introduced rail transit infrastructure after their built environments began to prioritize automobile movement over other transportation concerns. This research seeks to understand the daily human experience of transit station users and their relationship to their surroundings, and answers to what extent station areas are host to a rich and vibrant public life, as defined by the quality and quantity of optional and social activities taking place there. I found that the quality of public life is largely impaired in all four transit station areas I studied, due to a scarcity of overlapping activities in space and time, lack of eyes on the street, and plentiful, free parking.