The North Carolina Department of Transportation has put out a long range transit plan for the state that calls for a “connected statewide network” and “public bus lines reaching out into rural part of the state”. If there was ever a ready-made candidate for the “Bad Ideas” file, this is it.
Public bus lines are losing proposition. Public transit is a financial sinkhole that — truth-be-told — would not exist in most places except for federal and state subsidies. That’s another way of saying, bus lines lose money — lots of it and have high per passenger costs.
If losing money and high per passenger costs aren’t reasons enough for rethinking this idea, let’s factor in that the total number of public transit trips – an indicator of ridership and demand – – have declined from 77.2 million in 2012 to 72.6 million in 2016, a decline of 5.9 percent.
Only government would consider expanding services that are losing money and declining in demand.
If cities want to move people from A to B, there are better options. Arlington, Texas has scuttled its public bus service for a ridesharing. It’s less expensive and customers love the service. Other communities are taking notice.