Busbook conclusion: Change bus rules of operation to allow efficent operation.


I studied the public bus system of the Los Angeles metropolitan area in 1979. Within the framework of the rules of operation extended to it, I found the Southern California Rapid Transit District was providing "transportation for those who have no other choice" in a fair manner. The District had a "service standard" to provide service and access. The District put buses on the road and did the best it could with fare income and government support.

Part of the study was I bought a 1 month bus pass and I resolved to not drive my car at any time during the month. On the last three days of the "no car" month, a neighbor offered me $100 to install a gas water heater for him. I was unemployed at the time, staying temporarily in my Dad's house, and I needed the money bad.

I had two toolboxes of plumbing tools in a storage locker 15 miles away. I had previously been in business as "Lee McKusick Water Conservation and Faucet Repair" during the 1973 water crisis. The tool boxes weighed 48 lb. and 52 lb. I decided it was not practical to walk 4 blocks, some of it up hill with this load.

So, in violation of my study discipline, I drove my 1965 Volkswagen sedan (with a bald front tire and problematic liability insurance), got my tools and made my $100.

I had just lived through a practical demonstration of the failure of the public bus system. The service rules are rigged to provide "transportation for people and their incidental baggage only."

So the conclusion of my Busbook research is: The public bus system is caught in a saddle of restrictions on what it can do with it's resources. The restrictions condemn the system to operation at a low load factor and low usability. Low load factor means the overall fraction of seats filled for the entire bus service day is below 1/3. Low usability means most people choose a car or get some other kind of ride.

The affirmation is: The mythology and legal restrictions on the public bus system need to change. The mythology is a belief that a public bus system should not be allowed to provide services offered by the private sector.

The legal restrictions that must be reduced are restrictive clauses in Federal transportation equipment bonds and suits brought by commercial transportation providers that find a bus service steals patrons from their licensed transportation service.



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