At one time in our lives, most of us were bus riders. Buses took us to school, on field trips, and to athletic events. We went happily enough, if not quite willingly. Today, though, many of us don’t even think about using the bus - preferring first our private cars or, some of us, light rail trains.
Why is that?
Somewhere along the road between grade school and today, we came to believe that buses were less reliable, less clean, and less safe than either cars or trains.
With skyrocketing gas prices, growing concern for the environment, and urban lifestyle choices, more people are going to be turning to mass transportation. Because of the high cost of trains and the fact that federal funding for them has practically dried up, buses will necessarily play a larger role.
Before the planners object that most people in St. Louis won’t ride buses, let me agree with them. But, workers in some other cities and countries do ride them because they are reliable, convenient, and safe. As anybody who has seen the lines at Union Station for MegaBus will attest, a sleek bus with comfortable seats and a place to plug in a laptop attracts all sorts of riders. The amenities may vary on the #10 Gravois bus and the one that runs between St. Louis and Kansas City, but the principle is the same. More people will ride a good bus.
I have talked to Bob Baer, the capable CEO of Metro. I know that he, too, is thinking about this.