Woes of public transportation

posted by Russ, July 21 in sustainability with tags

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A while back on one of the blogs I read, Siel wondered what can be done to make public transportation more popular, or “sexier” in a sense. Her first post posing the question, and then in a follow up she pretty much sums it up. The two big problems are 1) reliability and 2) ease of use. I can vouch for both being a problem.

Many a morning while walking to the bus, I see two of my buses go by, one behind the other, only then to go to the stop and wait 20 minutes for the next one. This seems to be utterly foolish. The other problem, ease of use, is a big one too. Luckily it’s easy for me, I only take one bus with no transfers to work, but whenever I try to map a route to some other place I want to go, it just can’t be done in less than an hour and without multiple transfers. I think part of this is poor planning on the city’s part, and part is due to the massive sprawling infrastructure here. It’s just not easy to cover the massive area in an effective manner.

On a side note, a couple from Buenos Aires happened to be waiting at my stop this morning, and they asked me when the bus was scheduled to come. I just kind of laughed and said they’re supposed to come every 12 minutes, but that never happens. One of them told me that in Buenos Aires, they come one after another, so essentially you never have to wait, you just go to a stop and get picked up.

Finally, I think there is a third problem. Cost. Yea, I know it’s not that expensive, but to be honest, if my work wasn’t paying for my bus pass, it would probably be cheaper in terms of gas cost to drive my car, since I only have to go 3 miles, which is sad when gas is $3.50 a gallon. It’s just not realistic to expect anyone to take public transportation if driving is cheaper and more convenient. If cities really want to make people look twice at public transportation, especially in SoCal, it needs to beat the cost of driving by a considerable amount.

I’m always looking for new routes and ways to try to use the buses and light rail here, and I have to admit, it’s just not very easy.

Originally posted on Friday, July 21st, 2006 at 6:37 PM .

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