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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Public Transportation In Your Area

    Tell us about the public transportation options in your area. What do you like about it? What could be improved?



    I have 2 public transportation choices for getting to work.

    1) The bus

    The bus runs about every 10-12 minutes, and takes about 10-12 minutes to get me close to work. I have to walk approx. 600 metres all up ... I don't get door to door service. But the walk isn't bad.

    I have a card I use to pay for the bus which gives me a discounted rate. I can also get on and off whenever I want, and there is a daily cap to the amount I pay so that I don't keep paying every time I get back on again after a certain point. However, the area is divided into zones, and the further out, the more you pay. If we were to move out of the central zones, I could end up paying more for the bus.


    2) The water taxi

    It would probably drop me off closer to work, but I'd have to walk about 2 km to get it ... and it is quite a bit more expensive. So I've never tried it, although it is tempting just for the novelty.



    I like the frequency of the bus, and so far, the passengers are nice too. They're about my age and are business people who work in the part of the city where I work. I'm starting to make friends with a couple of the ladies.

    However, I wish the service further out could be improved. It's great where we are now, but not as good in the general area where we'd like to live.

    And I like trains ... if they could run trains up from a couple spots south of the city into the middle of the city, that would be great!!

  2. #2
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    About a mile from my house, there is a bus stop for the local-service bus line, with bike racks. Which is great, except to get to one job 19 mi away, I'd have to make two transfers and with the waiting involved, would take over three hours. Faster and cheaper to bike commute.

    Five miles away is a local commuter bus terminal, which gets me to my other job 45 mi away. Taking the local service bus to get to the commuter bus terminal would involve one transfer and add an hour to my commute. So the new commute is bike (5mi), bus (37mi), bike (3mi). I got a folding bike for this new situation because the bus drivers get grumpy about stuffing a full size bike into the cargo compartment and because folding bikes are way cool.

    For where we are, in a semi-rural setting, I'd call public transport options fantastic, although compared to a metro area, they are sub-par.

    When I lived in Medford MA (Medford/Malden line, Fellsway West, near Johnny Foodmaster), I was 1 mi away from the subway, 7 mi away from work, and I did the commuter experiment:
    - driving: 45 min
    - subway: 40 min
    - bike: 25 min
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  3. #3
    Senior Member GodsBassist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Tell us about the public transportation options in your area. What do you like about it? What could be improved?



    I have 2 public transportation choices for getting to work.

    1) The bus

    The bus runs about every 10-12 minutes, and takes about 10-12 minutes to get me close to work. I have to walk approx. 600 metres all up ... I don't get door to door service. But the walk isn't bad.

    I have a card I use to pay for the bus which gives me a discounted rate. I can also get on and off whenever I want, and there is a daily cap to the amount I pay so that I don't keep paying every time I get back on again after a certain point. However, the area is divided into zones, and the further out, the more you pay. If we were to move out of the central zones, I could end up paying more for the bus.


    2) The water taxi

    It would probably drop me off closer to work, but I'd have to walk about 2 km to get it ... and it is quite a bit more expensive. So I've never tried it, although it is tempting just for the novelty.



    I like the frequency of the bus, and so far, the passengers are nice too. They're about my age and are business people who work in the part of the city where I work. I'm starting to make friends with a couple of the ladies.

    However, I wish the service further out could be improved. It's great where we are now, but not as good in the general area where we'd like to live.

    And I like trains ... if they could run trains up from a couple spots south of the city into the middle of the city, that would be great!!
    You should definitely try the water taxi, just to say you did!

    I live across the street from a train station. The train station serves Baltimore (15 min ride) and DC (25 min ride.) The train station makes a natural point for other public transportation stuffs. There's a bus that goes to a nearby shopping center on the other side of a small suburbia (weekdays only.) Another goes to the shopping mall, but it's a pretty circuitous route, and they're looking into changing it next month I think.

    My favorite part is that there's a free shuttle that goes from the station to work and then back againÖ all day that's just what it does, and it's awesome and the reason I moved into the apartment complex I'm in. I ride it when there's snow on the roads or I just don't feel like riding.

    Not sure if this qualifies, but Zipcar is two train stations away. If I absolutely need a car, then it's a 15 minute train ride to the closest Zipcar station.

  4. #4
    Senior Member enigmaT120's Avatar
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    I ride my bike to catch the bus 9 miles from my house. I've been lobbying the bus system to extend their rural bus service to Falls City as part of their Dallas/Independence/Monmouth route, but so far they haven't done it. It wouldn't work for my multi-modal commute anyway, as I need to catch the earliest bus to Salem, but it would be useful to a lot of people in Falls City. I guess not enough to matter though. There is a lot of bicycle use in Falls City but I don't know if anybody else rides to the other towns. Dallas is 9 miles away, Monmouth is 14 miles.
    Ed Miller
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  5. #5
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    My local bus service was awarded best in North America a couple years ago, which gives some idea of the sorry state of North American bus services. One way adult fare is $1.25 including two transfers (used to include unlimited transfers). Bus tokens are 10 for $10. I believe a 30 day pass is $31--pretty cheap. Maybe it's $61, still pretty cheap.

    Coverage is pretty good with more than 30 routes. 90% of households are within a five minute walk of a bus stop. Ridership is good, with more than 11 million trips a year in a population of half a million people.

    Frequency is poor. Most routes are served only every 30 minutes or even less often at non-peak times. A few routes have 10 or 15 minute service.

    Hours of service are poor. Only one route operates after 10:30 PM. This was a major problem for me when I worked second shift. Sunday service is limited and there's no service on major holidays.

    Safety is fair. The buses themselves are pretty good because there is a zero tolerance policy for disruptive behavior. Security guards ride on some runs, especially past high schools. There was a shooting at the bus station a while back over a girl. Sometimes you see obnoxious behavior at the station, but not so much on the buses themselves.

    The bus company has good public support. Millages (publicly voted property taxes) to support it have always passed. You don't hear drivers complaining about the buses like you do in some cities. The financial management seems to be smooth, honest and efficient for the most part.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  6. #6
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    I live in the center city (pop. 150,000) of a metropolitan area of maybe 250,000-ish people. The local bus system is supposed to be pretty good for an area this size.

    The bus system works pretty well for me. I work downtown and live about 3.5 miles away by the shortest route. I happen to be near two routes, including one about a block away that runs once per hour. The other one is a little further away and runs about 4 times per hour during the business day, dropping to about 3 times later in the evening. This is one of the core routes through the city, so 4/hour is about as good as it gets in this system. They don't always run at even intervals, and one of times per hour is an "express" route variation that doesn't use the exact same route or stop at all of the same stops. Therefore, you need to know the schedule or you can end up waiting quite a while. You can also see the express bus go right by you if you're at the wrong sort of stop for it. The routes I use usually run reasonably on time. Both these routes run right downtown, so I don't need to transfer.

    These bus routes used run more often, but they dropped some buses several years ago due to rising fuel prices and falling support from the government. That must have been a major disappointment for those who are dependent on the buses (I use them but have other options as well - mostly I bike). I think probably the transfer situation got worse at that time. If buses on a route don't run as often, it can become a major problem if the bus you're on runs behind schedule and you miss your transfer. Then the total trip can easily get excessively long if you have to wait 30 minutes for the next one.

  7. #7
    winter wipeout kitty wipekitty's Avatar
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    There is a public transit system in my area: it could be better, but I've seen worse. It's one of those systems where nearly all transfers are done at the central transit station. Routes run every half hour during peak times, every hour off peak, and nothing runs past 10 PM (with the exception of the weekend "drunk bus" between the downtown area and the university). Fares are $1.50 for adults. The good thing is that it does have stops at useful places, like hospitals, universities, shopping areas, and county services.

    People talk about the bus a lot, but I have yet to meet anybody who has actually used it. I think some of the students might use it to go to the mall. Most adults just drive everywhere. Given the schedule and routes, it would probably take twice as long for me to take the bus anywhere as it would to just ride my bike.

  8. #8
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Frequency is poor.
    I gotta say that's a major downfall of any bus service. I'm lucky in that the bus route near my house goes every 20 minutes during M-F (but used to be 15...). Every hour on the weekend.

    However, a lot of other routes in town go only once an hour, or even just for peak work hours.

    Of course, my route always has someone on the bus, but I see those other routes practically empty.

  9. #9
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    I gotta say that's a major downfall of any bus service. I'm lucky in that the bus route near my house goes every 20 minutes during M-F (but used to be 15...). Every hour on the weekend.

    However, a lot of other routes in town go only once an hour, or even just for peak work hours.

    Of course, my route always has someone on the bus, but I see those other routes practically empty.
    Our one route with frequent runs is almost always full also, even with the 60 foot accordion buses.

    I live on the west side, but I often choose to shop on the east side because that's where the "good bus" goes. The longer trip is worth it because I know I won't wait more than 5 or 10 minutes for a bus when I'm done shopping.

    Infrequent service is known to decrease bus riders, total and per bus. Generally, less than two runs per hour is considered a poor level that won't attract voluntary riders. Three or four per hour is MUCH better than two, and people will start choosing buses over cars at that level.

    It's a shame when service is cut back to unacceptable levels. It's a true waste of public funds to run an inferior service. The marginal costs for good service are not that great.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  10. #10
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Our one route with frequent runs is almost always full also, even with the 60 foot accordion buses.

    I live on the west side, but I often choose to shop on the east side because that's where the "good bus" goes. The longer trip is worth it because I know I won't wait more than 5 or 10 minutes for a bus when I'm done shopping.

    Infrequent service is known to decrease bus riders, total and per bus. Generally, less than two runs per hour is considered a poor level that won't attract voluntary riders. Three or four per hour is MUCH better than two, and people will start choosing buses over cars at that level.

    It's a shame when service is cut back to unacceptable levels. It's a true waste of public funds to run an inferior service. The marginal costs for good service are not that great.
    Yes but it is also a fact of life for many places. Sometimes the problem is a loss of State funding and sometimes it is a federal problem. But iin all cases buses are at the mercy of the bean counters and the don't have the political clout to fight back. The two examples that are close to me are common for the area. It may be a shame but they are the bottom of the transportation food chain. Even pedestrians have more control of their own fate. http://www.octa.net/newsstory-bus.aspx?id=1845

    http://www.pe.com/local-news/politic...steep-cuts.ece
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  11. #11
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
    Yes but it is also a fact of life for many places. Sometimes the problem is a loss of State funding and sometimes it is a federal problem. But iin all cases buses are at the mercy of the bean counters and the don't have the political clout to fight back. The two examples that are close to me are common for the area. It may be a shame but they are the bottom of the transportation food chain. Even pedestrians have more control of their own fate. http://www.octa.net/newsstory-bus.aspx?id=1845

    http://www.pe.com/local-news/politic...steep-cuts.ece
    These are stupid decisions, but to be expected. The ironic thing is, good bus service--which is only marginally more expensive than bad service--is less likely to be cut. When people and especially businesses are dependent on the service, it has a degree of protection from service cuts.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  12. #12
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    These are stupid decisions, but to be expected. The ironic thing is, good bus service--which is only marginally more expensive than bad service--is less likely to be cut. When people and especially businesses are dependent on the service, it has a degree of protection from service cuts.
    Not judging the wisdom. Only pointing out when cuts are made the least or tail end is the first to feel the pinch. I still get the transportation quarterly and it is pretty much the same all over the US.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  13. #13
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
    Not judging the wisdom. Only pointing out when cuts are made the least or tail end is the first to feel the pinch. I still get the transportation quarterly and it is pretty much the same all over the US.
    So far, our bus service has avoided service cuts. In fact, a tax increase was approved by voters in 2009 in the depths of the recession.

    Besides having good basic service, there are other strategies that bus companies can use to lessen cuts. One is for the company to be transparent, intelligent, and honest in its financial dealings. Taxpayers are more willing to fund a venture that they trust will use the money openly and efficiently.

    Another strategy is to make sure businesses are well served by the buses. On our best bus line, anywhere from 5 to 20 people get off at the Meijer store on every run, that is, every 10 minutes or so. That's a hell of a lot of business for that store, and it's similar at three other local Meijer stores. So naturally, Meijer, one of the largest retailers in the region, is a major supporter of bus service. The same will hold for companies that have a lot of employees arriving on buses.


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  14. #14
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post

    Infrequent service is known to decrease bus riders, total and per bus. Generally, less than two runs per hour is considered a poor level that won't attract voluntary riders. Three or four per hour is MUCH better than two, and people will start choosing buses over cars at that level.
    I agree with this. When my route went from 4 times and hour to 3, ridership didn't increase. In fact, it may have declined.

  15. #15
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    I agree with this. When my route went from 4 times and hour to 3, ridership didn't increase. In fact, it may have declined.
    Unfortunately, most politicians and taxpayers don't grasp this fact, although it's well known to transit planners.


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Tell us about the public transportation options in your area. What do you like about it? What could be improved?

    Where do I start?

    I have multiple modes of public transportation using local or express buses, Light rail or a combination of the two including ferry. Depending on which one, I may have to use the New York subway to complete the journey.

    I find the four most important necessities are the following:

    1. A seat - If the bus/rail service I use forces me to stand all the time, I’ll look for another line that‘s less crowded. There is nothing worse than standing on a bus for two hours each day especially in the morning. I don’t care if the alterative bus/rail costs more, I want a seat no questions asked. However, this often means living near the end of the line which also contributes to a longer commute.

    2. Speed -- If the trip is too long, I’ll look for an alternative but not at the cost of having a seat. However, speed returning home is not as important but you don’t want the trip to last longer than an hour an thirty minutes one way. That means you’ll be commuting three hours to work each day or fifteen hours a week!

    3. Frequency -- I prefer 15 minute wait times but will put up with longer for express service or commuter rail. The reason I'll put up with longer wait times is that I can time the bus to take advantage of express service. If you're not timing the bus, you're wasting a lot of time at bus stops.

    4. Close proximity -- I want the bus or rail to be 200 feet from my door. However, I will accept a quarter mile if it has 1 & 2.

    You’ll notice that cost isn’t mentioned because being carfree enables you to afford more costly public transit options.

    As for my own commute:

    During the morning, I’ll use an express bus and subway into Manhattan. This is great and allows me an extra 40 minutes of sleep every morning. The subway ride into Manhattan increases my cost but where I catch it, I can actually get a seat 90% of the time! I could skip the New York Subway and bring along a folder or take a Citibike but I’m older now and just avoid the hassle.

    In addition, I could use light rail and ferry into the city but this would double my commute cost per month and add more time. The ferry is a wonderful way to commute into the city especially during the summer. I used it years ago when it was far less expensive. Overall, I have combination of eight different buses I could use to commute into the city. Incredible.

    The real reason I moved into my town to get access to light rail. In my return trip, I’ll skip the buses and simply use the light rail line because it’s just as fast and not as crowded. It’s strange how in the morning, the Light rail is packed but coming home is a totally different story. For those looking to become carfree, this mode of transit is really a game changer. I was getting ready to buy a car but now the city and state pays for my billion dollar electric car ride each day. As an added bonus, I can bring my bicycle on board giving me access to far more destinations.

    You’ll find that cities in general will fund their light rail system than the bus which is a shame but that is often the case. They do this by running more trains during rush hour, especially during the weekends. I won’t live in a town without light rail ever again.

    The cost of all this transit does not come cheap. I spend about 175.00 dollars and travel about 400 miles each month to work. Since I’m using a monthly two zone bus card, I can travel into New York City for free during the weekends. In fact, I can use the card to travel almost all over New Jersey. (see map below)


    http://www.dougandadrienne.info/njbus/indexnnj.html




    .
    Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 02-01-14 at 11:27 AM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Our one route with frequent runs is almost always full also, even with the 60 foot accordion buses.

    I live on the west side, but I often choose to shop on the east side because that's where the "good bus" goes. The longer trip is worth it because I know I won't wait more than 5 or 10 minutes for a bus when I'm done shopping..
    That's what happens in my town. The lightrail has only four stops but carries twice the number of passengers during the weekend because it runs twice or three times as often as the buses. The lightrail runs on the "east side" where the major shopping center is at while the west side shopping center was abandoned. I still visit the west side by uisng talking my bike along with the train.

    You'll find that once lightrail is established, towns that have service will fight any further expansion because they want to protect their business destrict. When it comes to buses, some malls will fight having service because of purported increase in crime.

  18. #18
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    When it comes to buses, some malls will fight having service because of purported increase in crime.
    I suppose it depends on the location, but I think in most cases this idea is pure bigotry. However, more frequent bus service cuts down on people causing trouble as they get bored waiting around for the next bus. Bike riding is better yet because it helps people focus their energy on a constructive and healthy activity.
    Last edited by Roody; 02-01-14 at 03:15 PM.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  19. #19
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    In Seattle, it's mostly the bus right now or nothing. Light rail is being built (right across the street from my apartment, in fact), but it's a few years away. I look forward to the day when I can walk three blocks to the rail rail stop and be downtown in 15 minutes or the airport in 45.

    In the meantime, the bus service here is actually pretty decent if you're traveling during regular business hours. Before 6:30 AM and after 10:30 PM, it's sparse to nonexistent.

    In spite of the fact that the bus system is fairly good, I make use of it only rarely. Within 5 miles, one way, the bike is faster, cheaper and more convenient, and for distances of 5-15 miles the bus is still not so much faster that it's worth it. I don't mind actually riding the bus at all, but I get sort of annoyed when I have to plan my activities around the bus schedule instead of just hopping on the bike and going wherever I want to go, when I want to go.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  20. #20
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    In Seattle, it's mostly the bus right now or nothing. Light rail is being built (right across the street from my apartment, in fact), but it's a few years away. I look forward to the day when I can walk three blocks to the rail rail stop and be downtown in 15 minutes or the airport in 45.

    In the meantime, the bus service here is actually pretty decent if you're traveling during regular business hours. Before 6:30 AM and after 10:30 PM, it's sparse to nonexistent.

    In spite of the fact that the bus system is fairly good, I make use of it only rarely. Within 5 miles, one way, the bike is faster, cheaper and more convenient, and for distances of 5-15 miles the bus is still not so much faster that it's worth it. I don't mind actually riding the bus at all, but I get sort of annoyed when I have to plan my activities around the bus schedule instead of just hopping on the bike and going wherever I want to go, when I want to go.
    I agree. As with car drivers, many bike riders won't be tempted by buses unless they run at least 5 or 6 times an hour. (If then...)
    Last edited by Roody; 02-01-14 at 10:45 PM.


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  21. #21
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    2. Speed -- If the trip is too long, Iíll look for an alternative but not at the cost of having a seat. However, speed returning home is not as important but you donít want the trip to last longer than an hour an thirty minutes one way. That means youíll be commuting three hours to work each day or fifteen hours a week!
    I prefer to keep my commute under 30 minutes one way ... well under!

    I've done long commutes ... I was driving 150 km one way to university a few years ago, and that took about 1.5 hours ... but I was so glad when that commute ended. You're right, it does take up 15 hours each week which is a lot of time.

    Right now, my public transportation commute takes about 20 minutes (one way) all up, including the bit I have to walk to catch the bus and the bit I have to walk after they drop me off. That's tolerable. We're considering a move which might increase my commute to just over 30 minutes one way. And that's long enough to make me consider looking for employment closer to where we could be living.




    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    As for my own commute:

    The cost of all this transit does not come cheap. I spend about 175.00 dollars and travel about 400 miles each month to work. Since Iím using a monthly two zone bus card, I can travel into New York City for free during the weekends. In fact, I can use the card to travel almost all over New Jersey.
    Wow! I think I'd be asking about a flexible schedule to work longer hours 4 days a week so I wouldn't have to spend so much time and money on a commute.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    One element of public transportation I would have loved to see advanced is a fast train between Calgary and Edmonton, with a stop in Red Deer. They keep talking about it ... and sometimes someone approves something ... but I haven't heard of any work going ahead.

    When I was doing those 150 km commutes between Red Deer and Edmonton, I would have really liked to go by fast train. There was an estimate that it could get me there in under an hour (instead of 1.5 hours), and it would have been marvellous to sit back and read or work on a homework assignment or sleep or something else productive.

  23. #23
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    I don't mind actually riding the bus at all, but I get sort of annoyed when I have to plan my activities around the bus schedule instead of just hopping on the bike and going wherever I want to go, when I want to go.
    This is it exactly. If the have to plan a trip by bus like it was a major expeditions... well... that gets old pretty fast.

    Another thing that gets old is erratic bus schedules. Sometimes this is unavoidable, especially when road conditions are bad due to bad weather. Those bus apps that tell you the number 3 bus is running late or even not running at all... golden!

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    For reasons that escape me, we only have bus service in my city. It is decent service within the city, but the further you go toward the edges, the worse it gets. This is partly a function of local geography. My employer provides free bus passes. Several other large employers provide discounted passes as well. Actually, all the cities I have lived in, my employer provided free or discounted bus passes.

    The biggest weakness is that it is not a regional system so that service to the suburbs is hit or miss depending on whether that suburb wants to contract with the city for service. I think light rail running east-west would also be beneficial, but drivers freak out every time it is suggested.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockmom View Post
    I think light rail running east-west would also be beneficial, but drivers freak out every time it is suggested.
    Why do you think they oppose it?
    Smug, bicycle-riding, car-bashing, public transport-using zealot.

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