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Who Took My Bus Stop?

February 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 200

Being an online article writer, I like to sit at Starbucks and do a little writing, but I also like to mix it up a little and go to different Starbucks on different days. Not long ago, I went to a Starbucks which had a bus stop across the parking lot. I was talking to a gal who generally used public transportation, although she admitted riding her bicycle to places which were less than 1 mile away, or walking to the grocery store. She considers herself to be eco-friendly, and I would tend to agree, however it seemed as if the reason was more socio-economic than trying to save the environment.

We both agreed that it was fun to ride the bus and meet new and interesting people. Whereas, I don't ride the bus anymore, I can remember in the past hopping on a bus to go across town in various cities throughout the country. For instance from a hotel to a convention center, or taking a Greyhound with my bicycle to drop me off at a far location to do a long-distance bike ride several hundred miles back.

It's amazing the kind of people you meet riding a bus, just as you meet interesting people while flying on an airliner. They always have interesting stories to tell, and you learn a little bit about how other people are enjoying their life experience, along with their trials and tribulations.

We both agreed that humans like to commiserate and complain, and indeed it does give them something to talk about. This is true, and if you've ever stopped and thought about this philosophically, I'm sure you'd come to the same conclusion. She indicated to me that riding the bus wasn't always so easy, and that although the schedules look very simple, and easy to use, they are never as simple or as precise as the nice graphic drawings on the bus stop, or on the schedule brochures would have you believe.

She told me of the time once when she got out of work at eight o'clock at night in a rather large city, and it was dark, and they had moved the bus stop, someone took sign out of the ground, unbolted the actual bus stop structure, and left. She knew she wasn't hallucinating when she got to where the bus stop was every day for the last two years, and there were still four holes in the ground for the structure, and eight holes in the ground for the two benches, but there was no bus stop.

Then she had to walk a half a mile down to the transfer terminal for the city bus. We reasoned that because the terminal was so close, some accountant somewhere or a scheduler decided to eliminate that particular bus stop to save on budget money.

Now then, why is this happening? Well cities, counties, states, and even the federal government have to rein in their costs, as tax revenues are not coming in and because the economy has sputtered. As we move closer to socialism, there will be less tax revenue, less economic activity, fewer jobs, and therefore the system will be stressed to the max.

When it comes to public transportation one of the biggest costs is fuel costs. It doesn't matter if it is a school bus from the school district, or a city bus. Some cities have gone to LNG buses, using natural gas, however those buses only get about 250,000 miles on their engines, as opposed to 1,000,000 miles with a regular solid diesel engine. In other words it doesn't really pay to save money that way on their budgets, although it does save on fuel costs, at least for now while natural gas is cheaper.

Recently, in our local paper here the Coachella Valley there was an article on February 6, 2012 entitled; "Bus Signs Not Cut, Instead, School Year May Be a Few Days Shorter," by Michele Mitchell of the Desert Sun. So, rather than cutting the bus budget, they are cutting class?

Before retirement, my company was in the business of washing fleets of vehicles, and we had many school districts, including the second largest school district in the nation, where we cleaned all their buses. We also cleaned buses for municipalities in several states.

I was amazed at how big their budgets were and the types of things they would try to do to cut in those budgets, such as foregoing tires so they could paint old buses, or having the buses washed every other week or every third week, or even once a month, rather than once per week.

It wasn't good for us when they cut the schedule for washing, as the buses would get very dirty from the diesel fumes, and the interiors would get trashed, it was as if the bus had never been cleaned, it took us extra hours. At one point they wouldn't allow us to raise the price and had us wash the buses once per month, and we just couldn't afford to clean them anymore because it took too long, costing us too much in labor.

It is interesting when it comes to school buses that on one hand we complain that the kids are too fat, and getting juvenile diabetes, then the buses pick kids up which are only perhaps 3 miles away. There's no reason a child can't walk 3 miles to school, and 3 miles home again, at least in my humble opinion, a little exercise is good for the little bastards (sorry for my harsh opinion I apologize).

In Los Angeles, the union drivers wanted to go on strike because they wanted more pay, but the RTD could not afford to give them more benefits or higher pay, and when the bus drivers went on strike for two months, the RTD saved so much money in fuel costs, that they were actually able to pay the bus drivers the higher wages with more benefits. In other words, they saved money from the RTD budget by stopping services, to pay drivers who didn't drive.

Yes, there are all sorts of challenges when it comes to fuel costs and public transportation, or taking all those "nice little kids" to school (there, now I am redeemed). Indeed, there is no simple answer but our higher fuel costs don't just affect us in our own personal cars, they severely impede transportation budgets for schools and municipalities as well. Please consider all this and think on it.

Lance Winslow has launched a new provocative series of eBooks on Future Transportation Concepts. Lance Winslow is a retired and previously operated the Bus Wash Guys;

Source: EzineArticles
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