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  • Simon Norton
    Aug 7, 2012
      In answer to Paul's posting of 31 July, I accept that Paul may not want to
      reduce bus services, but I still suspect that this might happen in practice,
      with ridesharing abstracting some bus patronage while still failing to cater for
      some bus passengers.

      I think there is plenty of evidence that people prefer to walk out of their home
      or wherever and pick up a vehicle without having to make arrangements in
      advance. In London there have recently been complaints that people have been
      deserting the central area for fear of massive Olympic crowds, and people have
      been urged to check in advance to find out where crowds can be expected. The
      point is that people don't want to have to do this ! Many local authorities have
      abandoned demand responsive buses in rural areas because they are finding that
      passengers don't want the hassle of ringing up in advance -- I personally
      believe that publicity for such services needs to specify their timetable
      sufficiently so that people don't have to ring to find out whether they can be
      accommodated. Several rail operators offer very cheap fares to passengers who
      book in advance, but most still prefer to buy their tickets at the station.

      It isn't just in rural areas that people may fear losing their bus services if
      passengers are abstracted away or if the authorities take the view that they
      have become unnecessary, whether because of a ridesharing scheme or for any
      other reason. Here in Cambridge, apart from express coaches and the long
      distance bus to Oxford, the only buses that run on Sunday evenings are a couple
      of city routes and an inter-urban serving a nearby market town which became a
      London overspill town. Many people regard weekends as opportunities to get away
      for whatever reason and they do need to get back home on Sunday evenings. And
      while train punctuality is not too bad, I don't think it's good enough for
      people to specify an arrival time at the station far enough in advance to enable
      a reliable rideshare.

      Simon Norton
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