Friday, February 29, 2008

How do you make Buses Cool?

It is amazing that the most cost effective and efficient form of local transit is seen as the 'loser cruiser'.

The public loves to own their own cars and seems to have an instinctive love for trains, but the bus is ugly duckling.

Vancouver, the city about to have Canada's longest rail rapid transit system, is still moving a lot more people on buses than on the SkyTrain.

How do we make buses cool? How do we get people to love buses?

Maybe it can not be done and that all we can work with is the fact that the buses can operate cheaply and can offer flexibility.

The fact that you can get a bus from a small 12 person unit up to one that carries over 80 people means that you can offer regular service in low use areas and upgrade the bus used as the demand requires. The use of the double decker buses means you can move more people in one space than a regular bus and get more use out of the roads. Routes can be changed as demand changes. This flexibility should make people love buses, but they do not.

People argue that no one will leave their car to ride a bus, but they will leave their car to ride a train. But this simply not true. People will go from their cars to buses if their transit times are reasonable and the cost is also reasonable. With the new single zone for Greater Victoria, I would expect a lot more people in the out lying areas to switch to buses.

One thing that could be done to make people prefer buses is to make the bus shelters are stops beautiful. Have them always clean and comfortable, have a display with the time till the next bus, have the cities make them part of their street beautification. Connect them to coffee shops is some manner so to integrate the people waiting into their community. Make people think they are beautiful and an addition to their community.

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