I’m bemused each time I hear comments such as those expressed in the recent letter to the editor by Jason Alexander, about the waste he perceives when he glimpses transit buses travelling with apparently modest numbers of passengers.
Four years ago, after entering retirement, my family got rid of the second family car and I now often take transit in both Mission and Abbotsford. I have heard Jason’s complaint before, but mostly from people who observe the buses from afar; not from those who actually ride the buses.
The notion of purchasing a whole different set of smaller transit buses for those periods of less demand may seem sensible on the face of it, until one starts thinking of the challenges of maintaining two different types of fleets, not to mention the logistics of trying to figure out when and where a particular driver or bus might be needed. While smaller buses might frequently well serve many passengers, I suspect that Jason would not favour being passed by on a cold rainy day at those times when the smaller bus might be full because someone didn’t appropriately consider the potential demand.
Now that I am a bus rider, I know that the larger buses have special features that allow access. Many, if not most, of the larger buses can be adjusted to the curb level by the driver, allowing access for people with small children or children in strollers. This works for wheelchairs as well. Aside from all that, my own sense is that the service is well used in Mission and Abbotsford. But clearly, not everyone rides around the whole bus route. People are coming and going all the time, often only for shorter portions of the full circuit.
It is easy to be critical of the effectiveness and efficiency of this important community service when sitting behind the wheel of an automobile and catching a passing glimpse.
But when one is making such assessments, one might consider the costs incurred by the community in order to support hundreds of mostly empty automobiles, SUVs, and other personal vehicles scooting around our region – empty except for a driver.