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  1. #1
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Busophobia--Bankrupting cities and limiting transit

    Urban planners tout trains as the solution to urban transit woes. But trains require great capital expenditures and long, slow development times.

    Buses, on the other hand, are relatively cheap to initiate. Beautiful infrastructure for buses already exists, and the vehicles themselves are much cheaper than train stock.

    Unfortunately, buses suffer from unfavorable public perceptions. This has been called "bus shame" or busophobia. Could a little more money spent on route development, bus cleanliness, and marketing sell the public on buses?

    Bus shame can be overcome; all kinds of fashionable New Yorkers ride out to the Hamptons on the various “jitneys” and “luxury liners” that to the naked eye look an awful lot like buses. But it’s important to understand that the train craze sweeping through the Obama administration, the ‘new urbanist’ movement and conventional green circles is more a fad grounded in irrational prejudices than a revolution in urban living.



    More info (paywall):
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/10/bu...002&abg=0&_r=0
    Last edited by Roody; 02-27-15 at 03:43 AM.


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  2. #2
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    Not sure what it has to do with bicycles (although from my former big-city days, I think I remember the trains being more open to taking a bike on them than the buses were. )...but there is something to this..."wealthy" people would not want to be "those people who take the bus".

    I remember the buses I took in Boston being fairly clean, so I don't know if that is the issue or not. I think It's more association. The expensive suit-wearing lawyer may not want to ride the same transportation as the uniform wearing McDonald's worker.

    I don't know if there is a solution.

  3. #3
    Daily Rider Robert C's Avatar
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    Ok, first, the relation to bicycles, you are generally permitted more bikes in a light trail car than are possible on a bus.

    Next, a reason that I am more willing to buy near a light rail stop than a bus stop. Simply there is a lot more to re-routing the metro than a bus. As such, I can buy and expect the metro stop to be there as the years go by.
    As a nation we still continue to enjoy a literally unprecedented prosperity; and it is probable that only reckless speculation and disregard of legitimate business methods on the part of the business world can materially mar this prosperity. Theodore Roosevelt, Sixth Annual Message, December 3, 1906

  4. #4
    Senior Member loky1179's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Urban planners tout trains as the solution to urban transit woes. But trains require great capital expenditures and long, slow development times.

    Buses, on the other hand, are relatively cheap to initiate. Beautiful infrastructure for buses already exists, and the vehicles themselves are much cheaper than train stock.

    Unfortunately, buses suffer from unfavorable public perceptions. This has been called "bus shame" or busophobia. Could a little more money spent on route development, bus cleanliness, and marketing sell the public on buses?
    This is the biggest problem with many bus routes, or at least the suburban commuter routes that I use - all that beautiful infrastructure is jammed up with autos!

    My commuter bus that takes about 22 minutes to reach downtown in the morning, takes double that to return in the evening, because of the massive daily traffic jam out of downtown.

    On the other hand, if I take the light rail, it is actually somewhat slower, about 30 min because of all the stops. But the ride home ALSO takes 30 minutes, because of the dedicated right of way.

    I rode the light rail this week - the older cars are getting dirty and smelly. On the other-hand, the express buses are really nice and have free wi-fi.

    Predictability in transit times is a big advantage for rail vs buses.

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    The buses here are clean ... and full. Standing room only. They could easily put another bus or two onto the route/schedule out here. And at the times I travel, they are mainly populated by business people and students going to and from work/school.

    However, as loky1179 has experienced in his area, the traffic really slows everything down. What should take no more than 25 minutes in the morning, can take up to an hour because of a particular bottle-neck in the road structure.

    If there were light rail, the train wouldn't get caught up in all that, and I'd probably be at work in 25 minutes or less. I could also bring a bicycle, which I cannot do on the bus. However, there won't likely ever be light rail down this way. The terrain isn't conducive for track. The best I can hope for is that they will eventually put another bus on ... and maybe do something about the bottle-neck (although I couldn't say what that might be yet).

  6. #6
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert C View Post
    Ok, first, the relation to bicycles, you are generally permitted more bikes in a light trail car than are possible on a bus.

    Next, a reason that I am more willing to buy near a light rail stop than a bus stop. Simply there is a lot more to re-routing the metro than a bus. As such, I can buy and expect the metro stop to be there as the years go by.
    Yes, I agree that this is an advantage to rail or even street rail (trams or trollies). Property values go sky-high within several blocks of a subway or even street rail stop.

    However, it's a moot point if new rail development is not being done because of expense and difficulty in developing dedicated infrastructure. IOW, maybe trains are best--but buses are much better than no transit at all.


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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    The buses here are clean ... and full. Standing room only. They could easily put another bus or two onto the route/schedule out here. And at the times I travel, they are mainly populated by business people and students going to and from work/school.

    However, as loky1179 has experienced in his area, the traffic really slows everything down. What should take no more than 25 minutes in the morning, can take up to an hour because of a particular bottle-neck in the road structure.

    If there were light rail, the train wouldn't get caught up in all that, and I'd probably be at work in 25 minutes or less. I could also bring a bicycle, which I cannot do on the bus. However, there won't likely ever be light rail down this way. The terrain isn't conducive for track. The best I can hope for is that they will eventually put another bus on ... and maybe do something about the bottle-neck (although I couldn't say what that might be yet).
    There are no bike racks on your buses? The bus company here is in the process of replacing dual racks with triples.


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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loky1179 View Post
    This is the biggest problem with many bus routes, or at least the suburban commuter routes that I use - all that beautiful infrastructure is jammed up with autos!

    My commuter bus that takes about 22 minutes to reach downtown in the morning, takes double that to return in the evening, because of the massive daily traffic jam out of downtown.

    On the other hand, if I take the light rail, it is actually somewhat slower, about 30 min because of all the stops. But the ride home ALSO takes 30 minutes, because of the dedicated right of way.

    I rode the light rail this week - the older cars are getting dirty and smelly. On the other-hand, the express buses are really nice and have free wi-fi.

    Predictability in transit times is a big advantage for rail vs buses.
    Of course, if bus riding were more popular, the car congestion problem would be eliminated.


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    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    In large cities, I do not think "busophobia" exists. I take buses, which is pretty much all the transit we have right now, on a semi-regular basis, and they are invariably full, and on many routes they're full of people in business dress. Whatever stigma there is about the bus that may still exist here is pretty much neutralized by the obvious advantages of using transit in a crowded urban environment. Plus, the buses are generally pretty nice; they're clean, usually run on time, and some of them even have WLAN. When I go downtown, I always take the bus. There's a transit center three blocks from my house, and I can jump on a bus and be downtown in 15 minutes. Driving would take 25-30 minutes, and then you'd still have to find and pay for parking. ( Riding the bike would take about 40 minutes, and is way more fun than driving or using transit, but this isn't always the most practical choice.)

    I agree with Rudy that a bus system that included dedicated bus lanes would be a lot better than nothing, and a whole lot less expensive, but I also agree with Robert C that the most viable option in the long run is light rail.

    My sense is that many people (certainly not most) are coming around to the idea that the best way to deal with both traffic congestion and quality of life issues is not to accommodate more traffic, but to eliminate it. Where I live, it's obvious that public transit is a viable solution; when people are offered reliable public transit options, thousands of them are more than happy to leave their car at home.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  10. #10
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    In large cities, I do not think "busophobia" exists. I take buses, which is pretty much all the transit we have right now, on a semi-regular basis, and they are invariably full, and on many routes they're full of people in business dress. Whatever stigma there is about the bus that may still exist here is pretty much neutralized by the obvious advantages of using transit in a crowded urban environment. Plus, the buses are generally pretty nice; they're clean, usually run on time, and some of them even have WLAN. When I go downtown, I always take the bus. There's a transit center three blocks from my house, and I can jump on a bus and be downtown in 15 minutes. Driving would take 25-30 minutes, and then you'd still have to find and pay for parking. ( Riding the bike would take about 40 minutes, and is way more fun than driving or using transit, but this isn't always the most practical choice.)

    I agree with Rudy that a bus system that included dedicated bus lanes would be a lot better than nothing, and a whole lot less expensive, but I also agree with Robert C that the most viable option in the long run is light rail.

    My sense is that many people (certainly not most) are coming around to the idea that the best way to deal with both traffic congestion and quality of life issues is not to accommodate more traffic, but to eliminate it. Where I live, it's obvious that public transit is a viable solution; when people are offered reliable public transit options, thousands of them are more than happy to leave their car at home.
    I agree that the people riding the buses are not busophobes. If you get used to the bus, it's actually pretty nice.

    But what about the thousands of people who aren't riding the buses? I bet if you surveyed them, you would find plenty of busophobes. And that goes for cyclists as well as motorists.


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  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    There are no bike racks on your buses?
    Nope.

    They might have had them once upon a time, but if they did, they removed them.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    In large cities, I do not think "busophobia" exists. I take buses, which is pretty much all the transit we have right now, on a semi-regular basis, and they are invariably full, and on many routes they're full of people in business dress. Whatever stigma there is about the bus that may still exist here is pretty much neutralized by the obvious advantages of using transit in a crowded urban environment. Plus, the buses are generally pretty nice; they're clean, usually run on time, and some of them even have WLAN. When I go downtown, I always take the bus. There's a transit center three blocks from my house, and I can jump on a bus and be downtown in 15 minutes. Driving would take 25-30 minutes, and then you'd still have to find and pay for parking. ( Riding the bike would take about 40 minutes, and is way more fun than driving or using transit, but this isn't always the most practical choice.)

    I agree with Rudy that a bus system that included dedicated bus lanes would be a lot better than nothing, and a whole lot less expensive, but I also agree with Robert C that the most viable option in the long run is light rail.

    My sense is that many people (certainly not most) are coming around to the idea that the best way to deal with both traffic congestion and quality of life issues is not to accommodate more traffic, but to eliminate it. Where I live, it's obvious that public transit is a viable solution; when people are offered reliable public transit options, thousands of them are more than happy to leave their car at home.
    +1

    Similar situation here.

  13. #13
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Nope.

    They might have had them once upon a time, but if they did, they removed them.
    That was a bad mistake. Bikes and buses go well together, as discussed on a recent thread started by Dahon.Steve.


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  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    That was a bad mistake. Bikes and buses go well together, as discussed on a recent thread started by Dahon.Steve.
    I don't think it was a mistake. And I never hear any of the cyclists at work or elsewhere pining for it.

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    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I don't think it was a mistake. And I never hear any of the cyclists at work or elsewhere pining for it.
    Interesting. You think bike racks on buses are not a good thing?


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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Interesting. You think bike racks on buses are not a good thing?
    It depends.

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    Senior Member CliffordK's Avatar
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    I've never taken my bike on a bus, although I did take it on the Light Rail in Portland a while ago. I think all the buses here have racks and they do get used some.

    I suppose I'd prefer to do any "ride" less than 10 miles on my bike which is pretty much everything around here, although in Portland there are many places where distances get beyond that threshold.

    Ideally buses and light rail would work together with the light rail in heavy used corridors, and the buses serving as feeders to the main lines.

  18. #18
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    It depends.
    Are you being coy?


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  19. #19
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
    I've never taken my bike on a bus, although I did take it on the Light Rail in Portland a while ago. I think all the buses here have racks and they do get used some.

    I suppose I'd prefer to do any "ride" less than 10 miles on my bike which is pretty much everything around here, although in Portland there are many places where distances get beyond that threshold.

    Ideally buses and light rail would work together with the light rail in heavy used corridors, and the buses serving as feeders to the main lines.
    I think I have used the racks only a couple times. Once when my rim cracked and it would have been a 7 mile push to get the bike home. Once when my arthritis flared up and I honestly didn't think I could ride ten yards further. It was so great to have the racks when I needed them! As I'm gettting older, I anticipate using the racks more and more.

    The dual racks are often full on our buses, which is why they're putting the triples in.


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  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Are you being coy?
    Nope.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    However, it's a moot point if new rail development is not being done because of expense and difficulty in developing dedicated infrastructure.
    I don't buy that. The most expensive transit system, by far, is the current automobile-centric American system.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
    I don't buy that. The most expensive transit system, by far, is the current automobile-centric American system.
    Except the issue is fixed costs vs. incremental costs. Implementing light rail is almost all fixed costs - and lots of it at startup. Incremental cost of one more bus is something like $180K + $100k/year for fuel and a driver. Putting in a single new light rail line is on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars, and an interconnected system from the ground up is in the several Billions. Anyone with a driver's license can get a useable car for a couple thousand dollars (of course most folks can and do spend more).

    Smaller incremental expenditures can get signed off by individuals - like Mayors or Transit Directors. Investing in light rail usually requires a major bond issue and an election to happen.

  23. #23
    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I don't think it was a mistake. And I never hear any of the cyclists at work or elsewhere pining for it.
    Bike racks on our busses was the greatest thing that ever happened. Even if I don't use a bus very often it's still nice to have a option of bringing my bike on a bus and making it a multi-modal commute once in a while.
    Could you give some good reasons as to why you think bike racks on buses are a bad idea ??

  24. #24
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I agree that the people riding the buses are not busophobes. If you get used to the bus, it's actually pretty nice.

    But what about the thousands of people who aren't riding the buses? I bet if you surveyed them, you would find plenty of busophobes. And that goes for cyclists as well as motorists.

    It's probably true that many people who drive everywhere they go often hate the idea of public transit, sometimes fear the people who use it, and feel they're being unfairly burdened with its upkeep. I have no sympathy for anyone who feels this way. The car-based infrastructure that most of us rely on is the most expensive, and most heavily subsidized, transportation system ever devised in the history of the world. Light rail is a bargain by comparison. People who drive because there are no other options should be furious. Those who drive even though they don't necessarily need to should be a lot less full of themselves.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I agree that the people riding the buses are not busophobes. If you get used to the bus, it's actually pretty nice.

    But what about the thousands of people who aren't riding the buses? I bet if you surveyed them, you would find plenty of busophobes. And that goes for cyclists as well as motorists.
    In many locations, I happily ride the bus. However, when faced with a situation where the buses are operated unprofessionally or are filthy, such as we have locally, I opt out. I did use our local bus regularly for the better part of a year about a decade ago and that was more than enough to convince me that I'm healthier and happier when I steer clear of them. So I'm not a busophobe, but I won't ride the bus locally.

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