Oh No! This Is Terrible! Too Many People Are Using Mass Transit!
For decades it’s been the same old slogans and soundbites:
You’ll never be able to pry motorists out of their cars. The automobile is too ingrained in the American psyche; Americans will never buy tiny cars or use mass transit like Europeans do. Why should we spend our tax dollars to subsidize a bunch of empty buses?
Or there’s the first person version: “I got stuck in traffic behind one of those F#$%&#! empty buses!” That’s sort of a variation on “I was in the checkout line behind this strapping young buck who paid for his steak and caviar with food stamps!”
I seriously doubt that these buses were ever as “empty” as the Single Occupant Vehicle addicts would tell you. As any mass transit commuter will patiently point out: When a bus is near the beginning or end of its route, most passengers either haven’t gotten on yet or they’ve already gotten off. At that point in its route, the bus looks “empty.”
As a ten-year veteran (maybe “inmate” or “prisoner” is a better description) of Golden Gate Transit in Northern California, I can sure vouch for this. When I got on the bus in the afternoon, sometimes I found a seat and sometimes I didn’t. Eventually enough people got off that there’d be a seat. For the last few miles of the route (I got off at the last stop) there were only a few passengers left. No doubt a lot of Single Occupant Vehicle drones were glaring and thinking “look at that shit, another one of those F#$%&#! empty buses!”
In any case, there’s been a sudden change. Now we’re facing the exact opposite problem. Gas prices have finally pried a few motorists out of their cars, and “too many people” are taking the bus.
Buses are standing room only. Sometimes they’re so full they don’t even stop. Would-be passengers are left standing out in the rain for another hour, hoping that the next bus will have room.
I would’ve thought that when a longtime problem does a big 180, that would be a good thing; but what do I know. Take housing prices. For twenty years, prices were going up and up and up. If you were lucky you might find a 1-bedroom condo for “only” $600,000. Then the opposite happened, housing prices fell, and suddenly “oh my God! A crisis! We’re gonna crash!”
And now, transit officials are wringing their hands helplessly at this mind-boggling new crisis: too many bus riders and not enough buses.
Uhh…maybe this is out of left field, or I’m too naïve or I’m missing something, but…ummm…wouldn’t a possible solution be…to GET MORE BUSES?!?!?!?!? Hmmmm?!?!?!?!?!?
Oh, that’s right. We can’t afford it.
cross-posted at Bring It On!