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For Better Transit: Fund Buses – News

“Buses are hard to love,” writes Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times, but with over 4.6 billion trips made by bus per year, they’re really the workhorses of the American public transit system. Despite a growing focus on high-tech solutions like autonomous vehicles and high-speed rail, Manjoo argues, investing in buses can make a big, almost-immediate impact on the experience of transit riders. “With the proper investment, city buses might be transformed into the sort of next-generation transportation service that technology companies and car companies have spent billions over the last decade trying to build — a cheap, accessible, comfortable, sustainable, reliable way to get around town.”

According to Manjoo, “all we’ve got to do is buy more buses, hire more bus drivers and, in some places, give buses special privileges on the road. All we’ve got to do is care enough to build bus systems that work.” When given priority on roads, buses can be the faster, more convenient option than private cars or even subways. London’s transit system provides one example of an effective bus network. What makes London’s bus system work so well, writes Manjoo, is scale: “there are simply enough buses in London to allow for frequent, reliable service to the parts of the city that people want to travel to.”

But despite their advantages, bus transit doesn’t see a lot of support in policy circles. Simply put, “bus riders wield little political or economic clout; a disproportionate number are people with low incomes.” Yet bus transit is cheap and efficient. According to the Urban Institute, “for about $17 billion annually, every American city with at least 100,000 people could more than double its transit capacity.”

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