Buses are having somewhat of a moment. This spring, the Washington Post asked if riding the bus is finally becoming cool, while Lyft is beta-testing a shuttle service that many have compared to the bus, albeit one that may perpetuate problems of inequity. At Island Press, we're fans of public transportation, or anything that gets people out of their cars and reduces the need for parking. But buses are not above critique. To find out how buses can be better, we asked bus-commuting Island Press staff and authors: What would you change about the bus system? Check out their responses, and share your ideas for improving buses in the comments below.
"A reliable schedule app—one that really woks and shows when the bus is coming, weather-protective bus stop furniture that helps riders feel safe, too, and direct routing whenever possible."
—Chuck Wolfe author of Seeing the Better City and Urbanism Without Effort
"More attentive to folks waiting around the bus area. Sometimes while waiting for a bus I go under the shade of a tree or sign and the bus driver drives past because he doesn’t look anywhere but the bus stop itself, dedicated bus lane, and more routes while Safetrack is happening."
—Kyler Geoffroy, Online Marketing Manager
"On major arterial streets I would love to see dedicated bus lanes that would make the bus more reliable, faster, and easier to figure out where it goes; like rail with physical tracks. Also, smaller busses in neighborhoods that are size appropriate and more flexible in pickup and drop off. Last, a simpler naming system so it was more clear where the bus went, and a digital interface with simple payment, trip planning and transfer."
—Gabe Klein author of Start-Up City
"I would like accurate tracking of incoming buses (the current app estimations are not always correct), and perhaps a visual of the buses along the route to help understand how far away they are."
—Megan MacIver, Development Associate
"Bus service needs to be legible and frequent, and forming a connected network (including with Metro). Then, to the extent feasible, it needs to be protected from traffic. European buses are also generally better than US in terms look-and-feel and amenity. These things can all be gotten right, to deliver a 'rail-like' experience without the expense and operational hassles of rail tracks in the street."
—Jarrett Walker author of Human Transit
"Better bus tracking, no more ghost busses. Watching a bus vanish from the list of upcoming arrivals, with no new busses coming for a half hour or more, is the single most frustrating thing about bus travel for me."
—Rebecca Bright, Associate Editor