What’s wrong with buses
Posted by Michael Druker on May 11, 2009
I’ve now had two posts about bus systems and their issues. This time I want to talk about buses themselves. It is rare, at least in my experience, for there to be frank discussion about why people do not use them. But it is worth discussing why buses have such a negative connotation for most people, and what can perhaps be done about the causes.
Buses stink. With the notable exception of trolleybuses, this has up to now always been true. The exhaust fumes of diesel buses are quite bad. It’s particularly bad when these fumes make their way inside the bus. Newer buses are generally not as bad, but the older ones are still large parts of most systems. Regardless, it is an issue that remains relevant for rider experience and health.
Buses are loud. They’re loud outside, they’re ridiculously loud inside. The newer NovaBuses here are less loud, but that’s only by comparison.
Transit agencies view buses as billboards. This may be okay to an extent, but it is not okay when the ads block most of the view out the window. Not only does that make the ride even less pleasant, but it’s also difficult to see whether the bus is near your stop.
The ride is nauseating and headache-inducing, due to jumpiness of the bus and the sudden stops and starts. Here there is a partial fault of roads, and of the nature of buses. But what I find interesting is the huge difference that the bus driver can make. In my experience, some deliberately make gradual starts and stops, while others will make them very quickly, to the extent that riders get thrown about. A bad bus ride can easily ruin my day. Judging by the huge variance I’ve experienced in Grand River Transit buses, drivers have gone through either little or no training with regards to quality of ride for passengers. I can’t imagine this kind of training cost to be comparable to the money that gets spent on buses themselves. If GRT spent the effort on training, I’m sure it could market it so people took notice.