Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The stigma of riding the bus

Who is the guy in the bus with Rosa Parks?

From Amanda Hess in Atlantic Cities on the Stigma of Riding a Bus in America:

City bus travel can be slow, unreliable, inconvenient, hot, uncomfortable, and confusing (it can also be cheaper, greener, and a perfect opportunity to sit back and actually read something, or at least improve your Angry Birds skills). Many of these limitations can be alleviated with investment in larger fleets, dedicated bus lanes, streamlined transit maps, and a little air conditioning. But there’s a more conceptual roadblock keeping well-to-do commuters from getting on board. "I felt like I was too good for the bus," [Jacqueline]Carr told the Los Angeles Times of the origins of her "snobbish" take. "I think there’s a social understanding and a construction around that if you take the bus, you take it because you don’t have money. There’s a social standard. Obviously I had bought into that"...

Localities have responded[to prejudice against buses] by pouring funds into more gentrifiable transit systems at the expense of the city bus—even if ridership on subways and light rails represents a relatively boutique market. In 1995, activists in Los Angeles formed the Bus Riders Union to fight the city’s massive investment in its rail system, which they claimed violated the civil rights of the city’s minority residents. Though buses are cheaper, easier to implement, more flexible, and practically serve a greater diversity of riders than rail, the city had allocated 70 percent of its transportation budget to what amounted to just 6 percent of the system's (disproportionately white) travelers. Despite some legal victories, the union continues to protest the city’s lopsided investment in its rail dreams, which now include a federally-backed "subway to the sea" to connect downtown to Santa Monica in the next decade. Over the past four years, the city has also cut bus service by 7 percent and bumped transit fares by 44 percent...

Thanks to the Antiplanner for the link to Atlantic Cities.  

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At 11:50 AM, Blogger Mark Kaepplein said...

The problem with exclusive bus lanes is similar to exclusive bike lanes and exclusive light rail areas. When infrequently used, the space is poorly utilized because no other modes are allowed to share. If a bus only comes every 3-5 minutes and often less than full, that makes for a wasted travel lane. A TRB report on the Oakland area bus lanes found the time benefit to each bus rider came at a nine fold cost to others. Hardly fair in our egalitarian, socialist world.

At 9:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Compared to what? Trains? Bikes? Skateboards? Even without special lanes, buses are still the cheapest, most flexible means of transportation.


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