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Why are buses so @$&% slow?

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  • Larisa Migachyov
    OK, so looking at the people s commute times that I see posted here, I see one salient fact. Public transportation (buses, trains, whatever) take the longest
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 6, 2001
      OK, so looking at the people's commute times that I see posted here, I see one salient fact. Public transportation (buses, trains, whatever) take the longest time of all commute options. Why?

      I come from a European country where public transportation is pretty well developed. Bus service covered the entire city, and the buses, crowded and stinky though they were, were a pretty quick way to get from point A to point B. Here, it is faster to walk than to take the bus or train.

      Now, I like to bike, and I would love to encourage everyone to bike everywhere. Alas, my biking radius is about 15 miles, due to a knee problem (after 15 miles or so, biking becomes agony), and I'm sure that I am not the only one with knee issues. And I wonder - just how complex is it to design a fast, easy to use, efficient bus system? Admittedly, this will do nothing for the nation's weight problem (you'll have larger cans of lard...<smile>), but it might help the traffic issues. Any ideas?

      Larisa



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    • Bill Volk
      I find the local commuter rail to be quite fast. However they run so infrequently that you wind up waiting for a train longer than the actual trip. Buses sit
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 6, 2001
        I find the local commuter rail to be quite fast.  However they run so infrequently that you wind up waiting for a train longer than the actual trip.
         
        Buses sit in traffic with the rest of the motor vehicles, and make a stop on almost every block.
         
        What we need are smaller, more frequent trains ... and some sort of mini-local-bus/express-bus system.
         
        Bill
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Larisa Migachyov [mailto:larisa@...]
        Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2001 5:42 PM
        To: carfree@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [CarFree] Why are buses so @$&% slow?

        OK, so looking at the people's commute times that I see posted here, I see one salient fact.  Public transportation (buses, trains, whatever) take the longest time of all commute options.  Why?

        I come from a European country where public transportation is pretty well developed.  Bus service covered the entire city, and the buses, crowded and stinky though they were, were a pretty quick way to get from point A to point B.  Here, it is faster to walk than to take the bus or train.

        Now, I like to bike, and I would love to encourage everyone to bike everywhere.  Alas, my biking radius is about 15 miles, due to a knee problem (after 15 miles or so, biking becomes agony), and I'm sure that I am not the only one with knee issues.  And I wonder - just how complex is it to design a fast, easy to use, efficient bus system?  Admittedly, this will do nothing for the nation's weight problem (you'll have larger cans of lard...<smile>), but it might help the traffic issues.  Any ideas?

        Larisa

      • Ronald Hands
        ... one salient fact. Public transportation (buses, trains, whatever) take the longest time of all commute options. Why? I don t think that particular
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 6, 2001
          Larisa wrote:

          > OK, so looking at the people's commute times that I see posted here, I see
          one salient fact. Public transportation (buses, trains, whatever) take the
          longest time of all commute options. Why?

          I don't think that particular complaint would apply here (Hamilton,
          Ontario). Bus service is actually pretty good. From my house, it's about a
          ten minute walk to a bus stop and then a 15 minute ride to get downtown,
          about four miles. The main problem, in this awful climate, is the long wait
          between buses, particularly in off-peak periods.
          One might ask why though, in view of the fact that buses have been around
          for 80 years or more, they are still so noisy, bone-jarring and
          uncomfortable. No wonder people are so relucant to trade the comfort and
          security of an automobile for this primitive conveyance.
          My wife and I occasionally take a mini-vacation in Toronto and when we're
          there, I leave the car in the hotel garage and do all our travel by bus,
          subway and streetcar. It's an eye-opening experience to ride on a bus in
          Toronto and then transfer to a streetcar. The buses are noisy; the seats
          are like planks; they transmit every undulation of the frost-heaved streets.
          Step on a streetcar and it's another world: quiet, smooth, comfortable.
          These are the postwar trolleys designed and built for the Toronto Transit
          Commission and they're wonderful machines. Would that there were many, many
          more of them.
          BTW, Hamilton used to have trolleys. They gave way first to trolley
          buses and finally to diesels. And they called it progress!

          -- Ron
        • Roy Preston
          Because a bus is only as fast as the slowest car! Roy P(riority bus lanes rule OK)
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 7, 2001
            Because a bus is only as fast as the slowest car!

            Roy P(riority bus lanes rule OK)
          • Ed Beighe
            Phoenix has all the usual land-use problems that I suppose is common in post-auto, fast-growth sunbelt cities. It covers 476 square miles (just the city
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 7, 2001
              Phoenix has all the usual land-use problems that I suppose is common in
              post-auto, fast-growth sunbelt cities.
              It covers 476 square miles (just the city limits, mind you), and has a
              population of 1.3 million, many of them thinly spread out over those 476
              square miles.
              Imagine how many buses it would take to cover this area at, say, 15 minute
              frequency -- it boggles the mind.

              So the answer to the why question, for areas like Phoenix is the sprawling
              land-use *precludes* any efficient mass-transit system.

              > OK, so looking at the people's commute times that I see posted here, I see
              one salient fact. Public transportation (buses, trains, whatever) take the
              longest time of all commute options. Why?
              >
              > I come from a European country where public transportation is pretty well
              developed. Bus service covered the entire city, and the buses, crowded and
              stinky though they were, were a pretty quick way to get from point A to
              point B. Here, it is faster to walk than to take the bus or train.
              >
              > Now, I like to bike, and I would love to encourage everyone to bike
              everywhere. Alas, my biking radius is about 15 miles, due to a knee problem
              (after 15 miles or so, biking becomes agony), and I'm sure that I am not the
              only one with knee issues. And I wonder - just how complex is it to design
              a fast, easy to use, efficient bus system? Admittedly, this will do nothing
              for the nation's weight problem (you'll have larger cans of lard...<smile>),
              but it might help the traffic issues. Any ideas?
              >
              > Larisa
            • Dave
              I can picture the CEO of General Motors addressing his staff, Now don t make those busses TOO comfortable. We don t want the average commuter leaving his car
              Message 6 of 6 , Mar 8, 2001
                I can picture the CEO of General Motors addressing his staff, "Now
                don't make those busses TOO comfortable. We don't want the average
                commuter leaving his car at home."

                --- In CarFree@y..., "Ronald Hands" <ronald.hands@s...> wrote:
                > .................
                > One might ask why though, in view of the fact that buses have
                been around
                > for 80 years or more, they are still so noisy, bone-jarring and
                > uncomfortable. No wonder people are so relucant to trade the
                comfort and
                > security of an automobile for this primitive conveyance.
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