Monday, February 03, 2014

Buses

I'm a huge fan of public transportation. This probably doesn't come as a surprise considering I only got my license a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, due to the makeup of our communities in North America many—if not most—have inadequate public transportation systems. I've griped about this before.

Basically, I think buses should be more plentiful and cars should be...less plentiful.

To catch the bus here, I'd have to walk over a mile (along a busy road with no sidewalk). It is impossible to take public transportation to Rachel's school (at least via google maps—it says walking is the fastest option and gives no bus route options). Any bus that I can catch on the main road runs every hour. When the girls see a "city bus" they get excited...because it's unusual.

I'm grateful for our van and I'm also grateful that I can drive (even if I don't love it). I'm even more grateful for our scooter and for the weather we have here that allows Andrew to ride it so often (because gassing up the scooter is much cheaper than gassing up the van and if he rides the scooter often enough we can go three week to a month before we have to fill up the van). I just wish that public transportation is more of a priority to our society. But it's not.

I think this author hit the nail right on the head. He's discussing the need for better public transportation in Salt Lake City. A bus route through his neighbourhood was proposed by the city but his neighbourhood has been fighting against it:
One neighbor stated at a recent city council meeting that he found the very idea of rapid transit distasteful, simply because “families and children don’t ride buses.” I know he doesn’t represent the majority of people in the neighborhood, but I would have hoped such a view would have been widely criticized and shamed as wrong for the 21st century. This attitude denigrates public transportation users as a ‘certain kind’ of undesirable for two reasons: one is clearly based in class prejudice and the other based in custom. If poor people are the only ones riding public transportation, we as a culture have completely misunderstood the importance and need for public transportation. Its greatest benefits accrue when we value public transportation for everyone—families and singles, elderly and young, rich and poor. This requires a cultural transformation, and the reality is, it also requires making public transportation more convenient and accessible.
Public transportation needs to be convenient and accessible (in respect to location, travel time, and cost per ride). I'm sure there's some sort of bussing initiative someone could think up to encourage people to ride the bus...if a city would make a leap to make buses more available.

With the recent snow storm (the forecast says we're due for several inches this coming weekend—I sure hope not) I heard several people talking about how unsafe buses are. I'm not going to say that buses are always safe (because they're not) or that they never slip on ice (because they do). However, I will say that buses are generally safer than cars. They're designed to be safer than most cars and eliminate a lot of traffic (which means fewer accidents).

Anyway, I don't know what the solution is, really. I just wish we had more walking/biking/busing/metro-ing than individual automobiles. Maybe if we all talk about it and wish for it long enough it will happen...

2 comments:

  1. Thank you, Nancy, for this and your other blog posts. I certainly have enjoyed public transportation when it has been available to me. For awhile when I was single and lived in downtown Salt Lake City, I actually sold my car and used public transportation exclusively, except on occasional weekends when I would take the bus to the airport and rent a car to go see my kids in Provo.

    Just a small bit of nit-picking. The quote is about the bus rapid transit (BRT) proposal in Provo, and the quote is from a resident of the "tree streets" where there is rather firm opposition to the proposal. The system in Salt Lake City is actually quite good.

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    1. Ah, you're right. I suppose he didn't mention a specific location in his article but I had attached the words Salt Lake to it since he mentioned the Tribune. :) I agree that SLC, especially DOWNTOWN has a good system, though it would be nice to extend farther into the suburbs (as they're trying to do).

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