Friday, November 04, 2005

Why Intercity Mass Transit is Dying in The U.S.

Greyhound service cut off list.

And people wonder why nobody rides the bus anymore.

Actually, I can tell you what's been happening.

First off, we build all these expressways and keep the taxes low on gas and stuff, then expect mass transit to pay itself. Most places subsidize transit to a greater degree than us, or keep gas prices high enough to insure most people use mass transit to at least make it to work.

The Greyhound bought out Trailways LInes of Oklahoma City, thereby destroying the competition that kept things interesting.

Then Greyhound decided that the best thing for their service was to remove many of their city stops from downtowns and stick them off to the city edge, preferrably next to an expressway so their drivers didn't have to worry about city traffic. They also decided that the best thing to do to the terminals they couldn't justify shifting to a suburban location was to shrink them down so that you couldn't help but feel clausterphobic and endangered in them.

Now...they're cutting off service to as many small towns as they can get away with cutting off service to. Never mind that many of these places, with their 2-5 people per day, give the system all the people that actually ride on their buses.

And people wonder why everyone flies and drives anymore. At least you can justify the crappy service at the airports by dint of sheer numbers of passengers and archaic airport runway design in many places. And airports are SUPPOSED to be at the edges of cities; where else were you able to find enough empty space to take off in?

As for driving, if you're going to be inconvenienced by the traffic and other people, you might as well be inconvenienced in the comfort of your own space. Plus you're on your own schedule (a favorite phrase of a friend of mine, in reference to why he loved autos).

Just don't be surprised to find Greyhound declaring bankruptcy in five to ten years and threatening to close down. Also don't be surprised if you only hear the occasional cheer and the cry to destroy Amtrak as well (why not knock out everything in one blow?).

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