Last week, I wrote about bad public transit planning by transit planners. The other side is not perfect either.
Some routes do not have many riders. The route that I take way east out of downtown to work does not have a lot of riders. The route does end at B.C. Wildlife Park so it is useful to have bus service so schoolkids can get there on fieldtrips. The number of passengers on a trip is usually in the single digits though.
Sometimes, it seems that transit service is wanted only so that people can tick a box. A couple years ago, I was on an inventory counting job in Quesnel, BC. The hotel where I was staying was in the outskirts of town. I decided to check out the hobby store downtown. I got a bus schedule and proceeded to arrange my trip. While riding, I noted that the route was not direct but did a lot of twisting and turning through residential neighbourhoods, and that no one was getting on. I asked the driver, and she said that she had been driving the route for about six months, and in that time, she had picked up only two passengers in the neighbourhoods.
If a route does not exist, there will not be passengers, but if there is a route, it still might not get used much. This is rather expensive.
B.C. Transit, in Vancouver, used to publish a newsletter called The Buzzer. I remember reading an article that mentioned some of the costs. Apparently, the system made money on the Broadway bus route (although it would not have if there were not other routes). Some of the other routes were quite expensive to run. The worst cost approximately $12.50 per passenger trip; this was when bus fare was about $1.25 or $1.50.
Public transit seems to be stuck between the two. I wish I saw a solution. Do you have any ideas?