Friday, January 22, 2010

Waiting for the Bus in the Rain

Last night I waited for a westbound bus in the rain at Vermont and Beverly (City of LA). I had an umbrella. I didn't have a bus shelter, even though it's a subway stop and you'd think that would be a priority. The wind blew, and I hid behind the map display. So did everybody else.

One more barrier to transit ridership.


  1. Modern cars have heated reclinable seats with adjustable lumbar support, climate control with the top down, voice activated temperature controls and numerous other features designed to minimize even the smallest annoyance. Buses have you hiding behind a map from the wind.

    This is not to say that cars are inherently superior. Rather, government lacks the profit motive and will therefore usually provide inferior service to private organizations. City buses don't even attempt to be an attractive alternative to cars. They're just what poor people use.

  2. Thanks for the input.

    On the other hand, private car companies provide no service to poor people, and those who are too disabled to drive. If you don't have the money for a car, good luck getting to work. If you're too visually impaired to drive safely, tough luck. Ford doesn't care, the public does.

    I point out the problems with transit because I love it and I know it can be better. But not without public support.

    Building bus shelters it basic. Unfortunately, we haven't mastered it in LA.

  3. I'm not arguing against buses as a good transportation solution for low-income people. I'd probably take buses myself if they weren't so slow and inconvenient. I'm arguing against public-run buses.

    Ford doesn't care about people unable to drive, but a private bus company would. Furthermore, a private bus company would strive to make people like myself choose their buses over car ownership. What they wouldn't do is divert money from bus shelters toward more popular public projects or bailing out failed car manufacturers.

    On a side note, I'd like to point out that cars are used for affordable transportation to those who are too poor or otherwise unable to drive themselves. Such cars are commonly referred to as "gypsy cabs," but are usually illegal due to onerous regulations and licensing requirements aimed at keeping taxis expensive.

  4. The government steps in for most urban transit systems because they haven't been profitable for a long time. They used to be, before almost everyone owned a car. LA was originally built up with private streetcar lines. But that collapsed.

    I agree that private transit services can sometimes be good. Greyhound is generally good. Airlines are run well a lot of the time.

    But urban transit is profitable almost nowhere in the world where people own lots of cars. I think it's worth publicly subsidizing because of its social benefits, traffic reduction benefits, and potential environmental benefits.

    After all, cars are massively subsidized too. Gas taxes don't pay for the full cost, and we totally ignore the environmental costs, and costs like the 40,000+ people who die every year in traffic collisions.