Monday, November 2, 2009

Making New Transit Riders: Comfort Matters

Take a look at a car commercial some time and it won't take you long to realize that comfort matters in vehicular travel. If you think about it, besides speed, it's the most important reason why people choose to ride in vehicles instead of walking or biking.

As anybody who has ridden transit, and ridden in a car should know, transit often fails to measure up on comfort. Buses typically seem designed to pack in as many people as possible and when they're full, people rub shoulders with each other. In a car, you usually aren't touching the other passengers.

The seats themselves often offer up rock-like hardness, and for those of us who are tall, insufficient back support. Those of us who are short often suffer discomfort because their feet cannot touch the ground.

The seats in the photo are from some Los Angeles buses. They're pretty good. They have a decent amount of padding and back support and they angle back a bit for a more natural sitting posture. However, even these are spaced quite closely.

The other big issue is roads. If the roads aren't well maintained, as is often the case in the city of Los Angeles, it'll be a bumpy and uncomfortable ride.

If we care about taking advantage of the full power of transit, to reduce pollution, traffic, and wasted land in a city, we're going to have to start taking comfort seriously. Few people will ride out of a sense of obligation, but many people might ride for a good experience.


  1. Try being short on a standing-room only bus! I can't reach the bars.

    Excellent blog - great, provoking subjects. Cheers!

  2. Thanks. Yours is the first comment. Yes! :)