The Future of Public Transit: The Bus

The solution to making public transit better doesn’t lie in technological innovations or hyper-modern trains, but in investing in one of its simplest tools.

1 minute read

March 6, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Young man wearing headphones and holding a coffee cup standing on a city bus

bbernard / Bus riders

Writing in The Conversation, Nicholas Dagen Bloom sings the praises of the city bus. Unlike more high-tech transit solutions, Dagen Bloom argues that buses are, in fact, “the future of public transit.” Unlike autonomous vehicles or costly tunnels, buses offer an immediate, affordable, and effective way to improve transit access and serve more riders.

While global cities invested heavily in buses in the early part of the 20th century, the United States took a different path, investing instead in the sprawling national highway system as more Americans gained access to car ownership. “Between 1945 and 1960, U.S. transit companies and agencies typically lost half or more of their riders as white Americans moved to urban fringes or suburbs and became car commuters.”

For Dagen Bloom, “buses are the most likely option for substantially expanding public transit ridership in the U.S. Millions of Americans need affordable public mobility for work, study, recreation and shopping,” pointing to the high cost of car ownership, which can be a significant burden on low-income households. Dagen Bloom highlights examples of U.S. cities that have made improvements to their bus systems in recent decades including Indianapolis, where a fairly extensive bus rapid transit system is taking shape. Dagen Bloom believes buses can be affordable and effective, but only if governments recognize their value and invest in their bus systems.

Thursday, March 2, 2023 in The Conversation

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