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Transportation Stats

Why Buses Need To Be More Dangerous 400

HughPickens.com writes: Is there such a thing as being too safe? Jeff Kaufman writes that buses are much safer than cars, by about a factor of 67 but buses are not very popular and one of the main reasons is that if you look at situations where people who can afford private transit take mass transit instead, speed is the main factor. According to Kauffman, we should look at ways to make buses faster so more people will ride them, even if this means making them somewhat more dangerous. Kauffman presents some ideas, roughly in order from "we should definitely do this" to "this is crazy, but it would probably still reduce deaths overall when you take into account that more people would ride the bus": Suggestions include not to require buses to stop and open their doors at railroad crossings, allow the driver to start while someone is still at the front paying, allow buses to drive 25mph on the shoulder of the highway in traffic jams where the main lanes are averaging below 10mph, and leave (city) bus doors open, allowing people to get on and off any time at their own risk. "If we made buses more dangerous by the same percentage that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars," concludes Kauffman, "they would still be more than twice as safe as cars."
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Why Buses Need To Be More Dangerous

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  • Interesting idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:06AM (#51721635) Homepage

    Never going to happen though. Once someone as much as mentions a potential risk, the result with the current culture is an overreaction to avoid it.

    • "Never going to happen though. Once someone as much as mentions a potential risk, the result with the current culture is an overreaction to avoid it."

      Truly. Perception is all: on one hand, increasing danger is strongly negatively seen and, on the other hand, massive wrekages are overestimated when compared to "light rain", i.e.: an airplane crash makes in the news, while 1.000 car deaths go unnoticed. That means that even being twice as secure as cars is not enough when talking about buses that can kill a

      • Then, there is the legal aspect. I am sure, there would be plenty of law firms slavering at the thought of bringing action against a deep-pocketed organization that explicitly said that something needs to be more dangerous.

      • by Chrondeath ( 757612 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @09:14AM (#51722243)

        I feel like there's an "agency" aspect to this that I haven't seen mentioned yet. Even if, overall, people are safer on transport they don't control (buses, airplanes), the fact that they have some control over the risk when they drive makes them feel like it's less risky even if it really isn't. "Those 1,000 car deaths were probably all distracted idiots or maniacs or drunks--I'm a better driver than that."

    • Given that a bus has frequent stops it is going to be hard to speed up unless you also increase the acceleration and deceleration which will make riding the bus far less pleasant. In addition the call to make them more dangerous is likely to have exactly the opposite effect. How long do you think you will be delayed if someone falls off the open door trying to get on or off the bus?

      A far better way to increase the speed of the bus is to have bus lanes. No increase in danger with a huge increase in speed
      • Re:Stupid Idea (Score:5, Interesting)

        by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:08AM (#51722775) Homepage Journal

        In addition the call to make them more dangerous is likely to have exactly the opposite effect. How long do you think you will be delayed if someone falls off the open door trying to get on or off the bus?

        It doesn't seem to be a problem in e.g. London.

        But I think the problem here in the US is that we have a sue-happy culture without socialized healtcare. Often, the only way for someone who has had a fall accident to avoid bancruptcy is to find someone with deeper pockets to sue. And there are plenty of lawyers willing to line their pockets by assisting in just that.
        Make people responsible for their own accidents, but provide them with decent free health care and employment compensation, and reinstate the old ius commune rule that no one must benefit from a lawsuit, not even the wounded party, and we might get rid of some of the nanny mentality.

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:43AM (#51721963) Homepage Journal

      It's not even a cultural problem. It's fairly simple: if there's an accident, and it's the bus company's fault, the bus company is going to pay. If medical costs are involved, it's going to pay tens of thousands at minimum. Ticket prices would have to rise to cover these costs, and even if the bus operator decided that 1/4 of the accident rate for cars was an acceptable risk, we'd still be looking at a company that would require an average passenger pay $100 or more in tickets and passes per year on top of what they pay already.

      I'm sympathetic to the argument, but without simpler liability rules (as in, if you step out of a moving bus and break your leg, your insurer, not the bus company's, should cover the costs), and universal healthcare (to ensure that the medical bill can get paid), I don't think it can go anywhere, in the US at any rate.

      • I came down here to comment something similar, but I'm wondering why cabbies will make riskier driving choices than bus drivers. Is it the potential for a higher tip for getting there faster? Is it fewer passengers to be potential liabilities?
    • It's about liability exposure - cars expose their owners, buses expose municipalities and large corporations.

  • ...you could just replace buses with trams or trains, because people like those and will travel on them if they're built.

    Everyone hates buses, because they are an inferior mode of transport compared to rail.

    • I've got it (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Replace the tires with racing slicks, re-paint the entire thing with primer only, loosen a few body panels, disable the governor, install a rear spoiler and fart can and you're ready to go.

    • Re:Or... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Salgak1 ( 20136 ) <salgak&speakeasy,net> on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:22AM (#51721777) Homepage
      Buses are far more flexible than rail, for the simple fact that you can re-allocate buses, and create new routes anywhere you have a road. Laying rail does not have that flexibility. And that doesn't even consider the capital costs of acquiring real estate and building the appropriate rail infrastructure on it. . .
      • by ebh ( 116526 )

        Don't you mean Flxible?

      • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:44AM (#51721975) Journal

        Buses are far more flexible than rail, for the simple fact that you can re-allocate buses, and create new routes anywhere you have a road.

        ...which is exactly why trains and trams are better. Frequently changing bus routes, numbers and timetables is a good way to kill off your ridership because who wants to learn a new timetable every few months and have to refigure the best way to get home or get to work? When the buses were privatized in the town where I grew up huge numbers of people ended up switching to driving because the company kept switching the timetables around to optimize them and everyone got fed up of trying to work out the new timetable every few months.

        • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )
          . . .really ? Cities are constantly changing, and track. . . doesn't. Adaptability to changing needs is a must. Take the example of the Washington DC "Metro" system, in Virginia. Until the advent of the Silver Line (i.e. the Dulles Corridor line. . ), a huge part of the jobs (especially in Tech) simply weren't on the rail-lines. It's still that way on the outer 270 corridor, the Biotech corridor, STILL doesn't have rail. . .
      • You touch on a whole bunch of really important points. Yes buses are more flexible than rail but also consider that rail create significant pricing distortions in real estate. Ever try to rent an apartment near a transit stop? Damn near impossible even if you could afford it. Here in Boston, it's approximately a $500-$1000 premium per month if your place is within 10 min walking distance of a T stop. Look at autonomous vehicles, they have greater flexibility than buses if electric can be significantly more
    • Buses and (short-distance/commuter) trains both suffer from nearly the exact same drawbacks; buses have traffic issues but can be rerouted according to needs (such as re-evaluating the route layouts on a yearly basis). Trains don't suffer from road traffic, but are far more expensive to reroute if changes in demand calls for it.

      And anyway,,,, all mass-transit suffers from two major utilization issues that are inherent in the very concept. One is that to be useful during peak-use times the carrying capacit
      • "The way of the future is not mass-transit at all, but individual transportation."

        If people get used to being ferried around individually in autonomous cars, paying per ride, wouldn't they be MORE likely to accept multi-person vehicles into the mix for commuting and other situations where this would be more efficient?

        Currently the thinking is, "I'm a driver. I'll vote for mass transit only when I think it will take some of the traffic off the roads I drive. I'm different from them down there in the tube." A

      • by shilly ( 142940 )

        Nope. The problems of individual vehicles are not just technological. Individual vehicles take much more space on the roads. In congested urban areas, this makes a huge difference.

        http://humantransit.org/2012/0... [humantransit.org]

        Additionally:
        1. Carrying capacity doesn't run nearly empty the rest of the time. See London buses and the tube for an example. Busy during the day, squished in rush hour.
        2. You have to compare mass transit vs the alternatives. Yes, lots of stops slows you down, but congestion slows you down even mo

      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        A combination is a possibility - a hybrid solution where cars can be linked into a train and then separated again automatically, just enter your destination and you will be routed the fastest way.

    • ...you could just replace buses with trams or trains, because people like those and will travel on them if they're built.

      Everyone hates buses, because they are an inferior mode of transport compared to rail.

      Trains are better at going from A to B in a straight line for a reasonably long distance where you have enough demand and space to build dedicated train tracks.

      Buses are better at serving remote rural locations and crowded city routes.

      They serve different needs.

    • Re:Or... (Score:4, Informative)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @09:38AM (#51722505) Homepage Journal

      A bus, depending on features, costs $100,000 to $1,000,0000 (a city bus is nowhere near a million though!) and requires very little additional supporting infrastructure. A tram or trainset costs $6,000,000 to $35,000,000, and requires track installed (typically $25-75 million per mile), plus stations at a cost of $5M+ each.

      I love trains, but the argument for having them serve intracity traffic for all but the most traffic clogged of cities is very hard to make.


  • Because this cannot go wrong, right? faster buses, people getting on and off whenever wherever...allow drivers to drive off before people are seated...

    How much time will be saved overall per trip? does that justify the risk?

    To examine the ridiculousness of this I suggest that Kauffman get into his car; drive with doors open, let his family get on and off as they please and make sure not to remain stopped when they do not have their seatbelts on.

    Even if he thinks this is a great idea and willing to do
    • Re:Oh absolutely (Score:5, Interesting)

      by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:28AM (#51721811) Journal

      Because this cannot go wrong, right? faster buses, people getting on and off whenever wherever...allow drivers to drive off before people are seated...

      Spot Mr. Risk averse. It's funny that you prove the author's point. You're so petrified of risks you'd rather peolpe do someething more dangerous instead.

      And er, since when do you need to remain seated on a bus?

      To examine the ridiculousness of this I suggest that Kauffman get into his car;

      FFS, cars aren't busses. Busses are much much safer. The two are not equivalent,

      Even if he thinks this is a great idea and willing to do that with his kids how many of us will follow? -I sure aint.

      Why wouldn't you? If it was safer than a car and all those things made it feasible to ride instead of a car, you're safer overall.

      WHICH IS THE WHOLE POINT!

      • Well. That's fine if you're able bodied but what if you're in a wheelchair, have a pushchair, a disability, carrying heavy shopping? Public transport means all the public not just the ones able to nimbly hop from moving platform to moving platform.
        • That's fine if you're able bodied but what if you're in a wheelchair, have a pushchair, a disability, carrying heavy shopping?

          All the busses round here have automatically extending ramps for wheelchairs. Some of them also have pneumatic suspension so they can lower themselves down to help people who are less abled (e.g. crutches). It is generally considered good form to give up one's seat to someone in need of it and in fact some seats are dedicated to the purpose.

          HAve some pictures:

          http://www.google.co.uk/ [google.co.uk]

          • Re: Oh absolutely (Score:4, Insightful)

            by BarbaraHudson ( 3785311 ) <barbarahudsononline AT gmail DOT com> on Friday March 18, 2016 @10:40AM (#51723111) Journal
            We had them, nobody used them. Who wants to be waiting in a wheelchair in a snow storm? Instead, you can book a special handicapped bus or taxi door to door for the cost of a bus ticket, with the transit company making up the difference. Turns out it doesn't cost much more to the system, while allowing greater throughput and more precise scheduling of bus stops. An adapted minivan can take 3 wheelchairs and 3 attendants. A handicapped minibus can take more. We did keep the ability of the buses to lower the right side to make it easier for people with reduced mobility to get on and off. You'll get people to give up their cars if you make the service good enough.
        • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

          Sometimes life just isn't fair. If you're an able bodies person and not traveling with any encumbrance you would have the option of taking your chances stepping off a moving vehicle mid block.

          If you don't meet those criteria, too bad, you just have to ride until it reaches the nearest scheduled stop to where you want to go. The idea was not to eliminate the stops, it was give people the option of jumping early.

        • Well. That's fine if you're able bodied but what if you're in a wheelchair, have a pushchair, a disability, carrying heavy shopping? Public transport means all the public not just the ones able to nimbly hop from moving platform to moving platform.

          1. the bus driver is a human being with all sorts of ability to make judgements about the fragility of the passengers, and when he might think it's a good idea to wait a bit longer before driving off.
          2. This is already a thing: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multi... [telegraph.co.uk] (yes that is a new bus design and they drive with the back doors open). You have to make your own judgement whether to jump on or off, or you can just wait until the stop. And they're *much* more convenient, every traffic jam / light becomes a bussto

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:09AM (#51721659) Homepage

    No what is needed is having bus routes not suck. Wan to know why i drive instead of taking the bus? Because I dont have 1.5 hours for my commute to take the bus that goes from the stop near my home, to the mall, then to the other community and then finally downtown. Public transportation needs 2X the number of buses and 2X the number of routes.

    PLUS there needs to be high speed limited stops large bus lines from suburbs to city and small cities around the large one at the fare rate that makes them usable.

    Greyhound service is available from my city to where I work 40 miles away... at 3X the price of me driving and 5X the amount of time it takes to get there.

    Public transportation in most american cities are not set up to be used, they are set up for the unemployed where they have 2 hours to fuck around on bus routes to get somewhere.

    And that is not even covering the subject of the old man that smells of puke in the back that is screaming passages from revelations and never get's off the bus.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The same is true even in places with much better public transport systems. The only thing making public transport (sometimes) faster than driving is the shear level of congestion... And the fashionable thing here seems to be to force more and more people onto the already overcrowded public transport systems by making driving more difficult and more expensive.

      One place i often work is 20 minutes away by car without traffic, 40 minutes in typical commuter traffic, the same journey is 2.5 hours by train during

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:42AM (#51721949)

      I really doubt there's a way to build enough bus routes to take people from arbitrary point to arbitrary point in an efficient manner. Public transportation works pretty well at major transportation hubs, when you can move huge concentrations of people to and from specific, highly popular destinations (like to extremely dense city centers). But it doesn't work nearly as well when you're trying to move between two arbitrary points in, say, a large semi-densely suburban region dotted with small to medium-sized cities in which the journey an individual is likely to take is not nearly so predictable.

      The problem is that without hub and spokes, you're trying to solve a N x N hard problem (with N being the number of possible destinations in a given region) in the worst case scenario. Each additional hub you add drastically reduces the number of routes needed, but at the cost of increased travel time and inconvenience.

      • by dj245 ( 732906 )

        I really doubt there's a way to build enough bus routes to take people from arbitrary point to arbitrary point in an efficient manner. Public transportation works pretty well at major transportation hubs, when you can move huge concentrations of people to and from specific, highly popular destinations (like to extremely dense city centers). But it doesn't work nearly as well when you're trying to move between two arbitrary points in, say, a large semi-densely suburban region dotted with small to medium-sized cities in which the journey an individual is likely to take is not nearly so predictable.

        The problem is that without hub and spokes, you're trying to solve a N x N hard problem (with N being the number of possible destinations in a given region) in the worst case scenario. Each additional hub you add drastically reduces the number of routes needed, but at the cost of increased travel time and inconvenience.

        I think we are at the point where we can flip the bus problem table over and do something new. If passengers could input their location and destination into a computer system, the technology exists to rearrange lesser-used bus routes in real time. We really don't need a bus to pass by 10 empty bus stops if nobody is there and a bus stop 2 blocks off the route has people waiting. Heavily used routes would probably remain scheduled-service as they are now. You could even run simulations and calculate figu

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        The problem is only the big cities that have a clue like Toronto, NYC, Chicago, LA do it right and actually have a hub and spokes. Most smaller cities that are less than 150,000 population absolutely half ass their public transportation horribly. One bus per route that take 3 hours to circumvent, that means you missed your bus by 5 minutes? you now wait for 1.5 hours fr the next one. so you ride BUS A to where BUS B overlaps to get to where you want.... the chances of you having to wait at the next bu

        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          LA does NOT do it right.

          LA is so geographically spread out that it's almost a problem unto itself. The major issue is there are 3 "city centers" (Downtown, the Westside, and the Valley).

          The only current direct route between the Valley and the Westside is the legendarily bad (and it may even be worse) 405. Some buses go that route, but if you want to take the train from the Valley to the Westside, you have to take the Red Line downtown and then take the Silver Line to the Westside. This is about 2 hours,

    • I don't know. I am more or less a life long public transportation kind of guy. I have had many cars over the years, but I always end up getting rid of them and go back to public transit; It is just so much more economical.

      Yes, it takes longer, sometimes as much as 3x longer, but I have found that I end up making it work by getting stuff done I would normally do at home. For example, I remember when I was living in the suburbs going to college many years ago and I spent literally 6 hours a day on a bus (1.5

  • by bederson ( 471644 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:10AM (#51721665) Homepage

    Buses need to be faster, even at the cost of reducing safety. Arguing that buses need to be designed to be more dangerous is disenguous. No one *wants* more dangerous buses. Better title: Buses need to be faster, even if more dangerous.

  • If executing one man per month reduced car accidents to 0, should the government approve such execution?

    Jeff Kaufman should be a bit more careful on his analysis on decisions that involve actively sacrificing some human beings to save others.

    The logic is sound, if people were cattle.

    • The logic is sound, if people were cattle.

      No, the logic is sound, period. No one would force people to take those busses. They still have the freedom of choice to not take them and go by car instead. If you ignore Jeff Kaufman, then you are sacrificing other people. Just because something is the status quo doesn't mean it gets a free pass ethically.

      Every single decision makes tradeoffs.

      Deciding to build a new road? Well if you invested the money in hospitals you'd save lives instead, so absoltely every sing

    • That's tosh. This isn't about executing people, it's about balancing risk, and we do it all the time. When you set safety standards for equipment, you do so accepting a level of risk, not pretending you've made the activity safe and this is no different. In the UK, buses pull off before people have sat down, and indeed traditional London buses allowed you to board and alight at your own risk from the platform at the rear.

      You encourage people to make better decisions, but you can't always encourage them t

  • Overloading on safety and redundancy seems to be a hallmark of well meaning municipal planners hell bent on playing the cover-your-ass card.

    What do you think about when you hear "bus" and "accident" in the same phrase? Lawsuits? Pedestrians hopping on the crashed bus?

    This is so frequent there have been stings set up purposely to single out the fraudsters

  • Road shoulders for bus use already exist [wikipedia.org].

    Leaving doors open while running makes passengers less comfortable in hot or cold weather, makes them worry about falling out, and barely increases speed. So it's not recommended.

    At-grade crossings of rail lines are rare, so not much is gained by ignoring safety rules at them.

    Driving while people are still paying their fares is a good idea. But really people shouldn't be paying their fares at the front of the bus. There should be fare payment machines scattered throu

    • Leaving doors open while running makes passengers less comfortable in hot or cold weather, makes them worry about falling out, and barely increases speed. So it's not recommended.,

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      We get by just fine.

      • by shilly ( 142940 )

        We'd get by even better if they actually kept up the investment in conductors so the hop-on hop-off was routinely used. But BoJo got the money for the toy but not the conductors, the nobber. All mouth and no trousers, that one.

        • We'd get by even better if they actually kept up the investment in conductors so the hop-on hop-off was routinely used. But BoJo got the money for the toy but not the conductors, the nobber.

          True that, though even without the conductors, 3 doors and 2 staircases makes them much faster at loading or unloading people at busy times.

          All mouth and no trousers, that one.

          I'm no fan, but TFL is getting control of the rail network. If he fixes the trains, basically Londoners will forgive anything.

      • Leaving doors open while running makes passengers less comfortable in hot or cold weather, makes them worry about falling out, and barely increases speed. So it's not recommended.,

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        We get by just fine.

        Uh, yeah...

        The New Routemaster has been criticised for the effectiveness of its air conditioning (although it actually has an air-cooling/heating system, which operates differently from an air 'conditioning' system), especially during hot days.

        Although London Buses' Director of Operations promised that all New Routemasters would be staffed by conductors and the rear platform would be open 12 hours a day, when the buses were introduced on route 148, there was no second crew member and the rear platform was opened by the driver at bus stops only.

        The common criticisms of the bus, from what I can gather, are very uncomfortable temperatures, which was exactly the person's point. I don't live in London, so perhaps they've fixed that since, but you should at least read your own source before presenting it here. Furthermore, that still doesn't answer the main point - these routemasters have speed limits in most places, so you're gaining a paltry boost, if any at all. What you do gain is a huge increase in noise, car exhaust from the road, an

  • by Oxygen99 ( 634999 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:16AM (#51721719)
    We could slow down other traffic. Perhaps by having snipers shooting out the tyres of every hundredth car? That should have the same effect of encouraging people onto public transport.

    Seriously. Sometimes thinking the unthinkable is stupid.
    • Sometimes thinking the unthinkable is stupid.

      Exactly.

      Often the stupid believe a stupid idea is good but has never been considered for X reasons, without realizing everyone else already considered and discarded the stupid idea a long time ago.

      The problems is that sometimes others, even more stupid, are in awe of the new fantastic idea. And thusly entire political parties are formed.

  • by ugen ( 93902 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:20AM (#51721755)

    People don't use buses in US because there are no buses. Outside New York, there is scarcely any usable public transportation in even largest metropolitan areas. Washington DC (with the second largest metro in US, which is also something like 50th world-wide) has what would be considered a "well developed" bus system for US. The buses in many areas run only during rush hour, and even then - 1-2 an hour. Outside rush hour (and immediate city center) buses run once an hour or not at all. The routes are designed to bring suburban commuters to metro stations or city center. There are virtually no usable routes that could take a person shopping, to school, much less from one non-central area to another. Making these buses faster won't change the fact that they are not very practical and few and far between.

    Public transportation requires commitment of public funds and desire to develop and support a system. No city in US seems to have the will.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Anyone that wants to see public transportation done right needs to visit Japan.

      After coming back from Tokyo, I always sob quietly when I take my local transportation.

      > allow buses to drive 25mph on the shoulder of the highway in traffic jams where the main lanes are averaging below 10mph

      Where I live, every buss that did that would be followed by a convoy of assholes.

      • Anyone that wants to see public transportation done right needs to visit Japan.

        After coming back from Tokyo, I always sob quietly when I take my local transportation.

        > allow buses to drive 25mph on the shoulder of the highway in traffic jams where the main lanes are averaging below 10mph

        Where I live, every buss that did that would be followed by a convoy of assholes.

        I concurr with you. I actually live in Japan right now, and the public transportation is a dream - buses are clean and well maintained, they actually go interesting places, they always come at every 10-15 minutes on the dot, and they link really nicely with the local taxi and train systems. When it comes to public transportation in the big cities, the US could learn a lot from how Japan handles theirs.

  • ... where the bus drivers usually start while you just climbed the bus, always go over the speed limit, and they already keep the door always opened (in order to be able to start while you are in the first rung).

    And still, less accidents with them, because other drivers know they're crazy and take care to never drive around them.

    PS: Crazy Bus, sounds like a Sega game.

    • by Volanin ( 935080 )

      Ahahahahaha, so true!

      But things are changing, in big cities, buses are already equipped with door brakes (they can't move while doors are open) and GPS speed tracking. People are able to report bad driver behaviour online or by phone, and corrective actions are taken. The reality is that the great majority of people here in Brazil ride buses to go to work, and they can't afford another means of transportation. Buses are not generally used by the middle/upper classes, who usually ride taxis/uber when the nee


  • All buses should have a polar bear as a passenger.

    The added excitement and danger would make bus travel more attractive to potential customers.
  • A bus doesn't need to go faster for in-town stuff... plenty fast for that already. Well, except that one that can't go below 50mph...

    The reason a bus takes forever to get across town that may take you 20 minutes in a car is that they are stopping every half mile to pickup/drop off passengers.

    If a bus route system is designed with multiple "hubs" - where multiple routes intersect - then having a few buses doing nothing but "hub to hub" runs without any stops in between could probably make things better in

  • Suggestions include not to require buses to stop and open their doors at railroad crossings

    Eh? They just stop at any railroad crossing they come to and open their doors? Why?

    • So hobos that hopped off passing boxcars can board, and hobos already on board can catch the next train?

  • Busses are a convenience factor for the government, not for the people. It's a way of putting in a mass transit system without having to build anything more than a few signposts and buy a vehicle.

    You want faster buses, put in the necessary infrastructure. Bus lanes, priority traffic lights, busways, heck some cities have built massive underground bus stations complete with interconnected stops, tunnels, and dedicated highways / bridges (think a metro system which isn't confined to tracks).

    Currently buses sh

    • Busses are a convenience factor for the government, not for the people. It's a way of putting in a mass transit system without having to build anything more than a few signposts and buy a vehicle.

      You want faster buses, put in the necessary infrastructure. Bus lanes, priority traffic lights, busways, heck some cities have built massive underground bus stations complete with interconnected stops, tunnels, and dedicated highways / bridges (think a metro system which isn't confined to tracks).

      Currently buses share the road with cars and all the downsides that traffic, red lights, and stop signs entail. You're never going to be faster or more convenient than a car unless you do something serious to tip the scales in favour of the buses.

      In reality, buses are not a convenience factor for the government, but instead for businesses. It enables businesses to get workers and customers to locations not possible without a personal vehicle. It enables businesses not to have to have enough parking spaces for every worker and customer. It allows businesses to be larger and centrally located instead of spread out throughout the various communities, saving money, as they were at the turn of the 20th century.

      Just think, if there were no cars on those s

  • by Malc ( 1751 )

    allow the driver to start while someone is still at the front paying

    How about just stop accepting cash? I know this isn't practical in some places, but here in London where you have the choice of Oyster or contactless debit/credit cards, this has worked well.

    Personally I don't like buses because I get motion sickness on them, or their ride is uncomfortable. Oh, and their reliability in terms of turning up when they're supposed too. I always take the Tube or rail if I can instead.

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Friday March 18, 2016 @08:41AM (#51721941)

    Nonsense.

    The key issue with public transport is frequency, not speed. When I'm sitting on the bus, I don't want the driver to stop and go at breakneck pace - especially if I'm trying to drink my take-away latte or get some code done on my laptop. Or, perhaps even both at the same time. You have your head free and are not in racecar mode, that's a killer cirteria of PT.

    Frequency is the actual issue with busses and other PT. It goes a long way that busses and taxis here in Germany often have their own lanes, but double the frequency and you'll reach a tipping point for PT. The streets here in Europe are clogged and cluttered to a max, stuffed with cars parking 97% of their lifetime. It's insane. Car love is basically modern days mass psychosis.

    I hope that all changes when the self-driving cars come. That's actually the exact issue Sundar Pichai and the Google Car crew are aiming at.
    Once we have robots driving busses, we can have them go more often and needn't train and pay busdrivers. I really hope to see that day soon.

    • Once we have robots driving busses, we can have them go more often and needn't train and pay busdrivers. I really hope to see that day soon.

      More frequent buses do not require autonomous vehicles. It can be done today. All it takes is purchasing additional buses. Also, you lament 97% of cars being parked all day. Wouldn't that be the same for a personally owned self-driving car? Now, if you are talking about publicly owned self-driving cars that you just summons, kind of like Uber, well, that will be a long way off and unless you disallow privately owned vehicles, is likely not to solve the problem.

      In short, if you want more frequency for buses

    • It is of course both frequency and speed.

      I actually moved further away from work and get to work quicker now because I take a regional train to work, instead of the subway. (Go-train instead of TTC subway in Toronto). I'm on a bit more of a schedule, but it's worth it. I often get to work much quicker than people who live in the city and have to deal with street cars and buses that stop every 200m. I'm just amazed at how close bus stops are together in Toronto. Like what's wrong with walking 3 minutes to im

  • A large part of the bus perception problem is the slow, smoky, lumbering diesels. A hybrid design with fully regenerative braking could accelerate and stop a lot faster, because there would no longer be such a fuel penalty for zippier operation.

    • A large part of the bus perception problem is the slow, smoky, lumbering diesels. A hybrid design with fully regenerative braking could accelerate and stop a lot faster, because there would no longer be such a fuel penalty for zippier operation.

      In my part of the country, diesel buses were replaced years ago. Most are propane or NG powered around here. Since most city driving is relatively slow, anyway, being able to accelerate and stop quicker is usually not a factor. Also, remember, that the occupants aren't belted in, so zippier operation tends to take its toll on the riders.

  • Buy the ticket online or at the cashier's, the driver only needs to point the code reader at the ticket (printed or on-screen) and off you go. Or use a transportation card with an embedded RFID chip akin to the Oyster in London. No need to wave your coins and waste other people's time. Use designated public transportation lanes (also available to taxis and perhaps electric cars). No stopping at stops where no one is waiting and no one in the bus has pushed the "I want to get off" button. Mandate seatbelts o

  • Jeff Kaufman writes that buses are much safer than cars, by about a factor of 67....If we made buses more dangerous by the same percentage that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars," concludes Kauffman, "they would still be more than twice as safe as cars."

    So, to get more people to ride buses, we increase the risk to those already riding buses by a factor around 32. I guess those people don't matter in the equation. How about something much more practical -- the author states that many who don't ride do so because it is faster to drive. But faster is also riskier to themselves, but more importantly others. So, remove that advantage to driving by lowering the speed limits and enforcing it. That way, everybody is safer, there are fewer accidents and a smalle

  • When you get on a bus here the driver looks at you, assesses how likely you are to actually pay, then peels off if he thinks you will. If not, he waits until you tap your card or plink your change, THEN peels off. You get a helpful burst of acceleration to encourage you to move to the back of the bus.

    Whenever the bus is not actually moving you can open the doors and get off. Often you have to because the drivers frequently miss stops.

    Still nobody likes mass transit. Something about having to wait for it

  • Humans, as a whole, are poor evaluators of risk. "That will happen to the other guy, it could never happen to me." I'm sure you've all heard that or some variation on it.

    It's like watching people in a casino. The vast majority will play blackjack until they go bust. A very few, with iron discipline, will walk out with a profit-and that is because they have carefully evaluated the risk and are willing to fold when they are behind.
    Objective risk evaluation is very hard and most people don't want to conceiv
    • > . A very few, with iron discipline, will walk out

      If they actually are evaluating their odds, they're not at the table in the first place. Duh.

  • Buses drive on the shoulder on many highways and roads. So people stopped in traffic get to watch people surfing their phone or reading books go ahead of them. And buses here don't stop and open doors for railroads at all. Maybe school buses do.

    But the routes are the problem. Spouse takes the bus in because it's quicker than driving, cheaper than parking, etc. I drive because it's a 12 minute drive or a 45 minute bus ride (IF I don't miss the connection, which I almost always do). But spouse is downtown, I'

  • Indeed, safety is not the issue, otherwise it would see them used way more. As someone living in Europe and a company that pays my public transport (so money is not even an issue) what realy stops me fom using buses is frequency copared to distance/time I need to travel.

    If I need to trave 1 hour, I have no issue have 4 per hour. It ads about 10% on average to my travel time. If I have to traver 5 minutes, 4 per hour will almost double my travel time.

    So what can you do to enhance this? More buses that are sm

  • One of the huge reasons that bus is not a viable means of transportation for me, despite there being two routes that with incredible convenience service my daily commute is that they make too many stops. They stop, quite literally, every two blocks. On the plus side, this implies the maximum distance you need to walk to a bus is a block (and the mean will be about half a block, depending on variability in housing density). Yes, that's remarkable convenience. But it means that the 10 minute drive it sho

  • I'm going to address the problem as a whole at the bottom, but I'll start by pointing out some specifics that suggest this guy is clueless:

    "Suggestions include not to require buses to stop and open their doors at railroad crossings"

    Recently a bus in Ottawa failed to do this, for an unknown reason, and was hit by a train, killing six people.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottawa_bus-train_crash

    This is not going to change, even if these are rare events. When these rare events occur, it's not a single-occupant c

  • If you are poor and have to get across town, a bus is a necessary evil at best. Buses damage roads an order of magnitude more than all those riders driving their own cars. Buses have to stop all their bulk every time anyone wants to get off. Buses are massive and take up a massive footprint on the road, harming traffic patterns when traffic is congested, e.g. in SF, where buses re-entering the roadway cause accidents on a regular basis.

    Whether we go full-genius and replace cars with PRT, or go full-idiot an

  • by azcoyote ( 1101073 ) on Friday March 18, 2016 @09:41AM (#51722525)
    I actually ride the bus every single day I come into work and this is so ridiculous it has to be a joke.
    1. 1. Bus drivers already typically start driving while you are still putting in your money. You have to grab on so you don't go flying.
    2. 2. Bus drivers already drive as boldly and crazily as they can get away with, and they typically do get away with a lot because their vehicle is bigger than most others around. Hence when they cut people off, people tend to just let them.
    3. 3. Having to open doors at railroad crossings is weird, but it barely takes half a second out of our trip.
    4. 4. Having the bus drive on the shoulder would be so stupid as to lead to murder; at some point someone will be on the shoulder and will get run over. Why not just use HOV lanes or reserved bus lanes? That makes a lot more sense.
    5. 5. The #1 factor affecting bus speed is not how careful the drivers are, but how many stops they have to make on a single route. The reason my bus is so effective is because it is an express bus that has relatively few stops and uses the highway in-between. To improve bus usage there will simply have to be many more express routes, better advertizing, and a significant cultural changes.
    6. 6. The reason there need to be cultural changes is because in the United States our first instinct (for most of us) is to drive, not even to look for a bus route. Most people simply assume that the bus is not workable until proven otherwise. Our basic affluence and the convenience of driving one's own car make it so that riding a bus seems like an odd, special occasion, especially for commuters who go a longer distance to work. In order to effect a cultural change it will take advertizing, spreading information, and willingness to contribute more tax money to public transportation so that new routes can be built up before enough riders can be easily recruited to make them self-sustaining.

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