We’ve all heard the refrain over and over. “All I see are empty buses. No one is riding the bus.”
Transit consultant Jarrett Walker has an answer for those who don’t see why taxpayers should spend money on a public transit system when the buses are not full.
“Empty buses serve a purpose.” is an article by Tanya Snyder from DC Streets blog which was reposted on TODNews.com and the article explains Walker’s thinking about ridership vs. coverage.
Transit agencies need to make a trade-off between ridership and coverage and they should determine, with public input, how much of their resources will be spent on routes with a high number of riders vs. routes that just need to be there. The sheer existence of a route can be a tremendous benefit and a lifeline to those without any other transportation options.
I also like to tell people that just because they see an empty bus at one point in time doesn’t mean that all of the buses are running empty. It would be great if we could get more people to use public transit and that is one of our goals but transit is serving an important purpose just by being here. Let’s not forget that.