Are buses becoming obsolete? Fixed-route bus ridership has been on the decline for years but customized service requiring 24-hour reservation is increasing but costly. With taxpayers subsidizing 80-90 cents for every operating dollar spent and 100% of the capital costs, more innovation is needed to make these transportation services cost effective.

For example, Uber/Lyft is an option communities can consider. They’re a demand-response service where a passenger gets an immediate vehicle upon a request to provide door-to-door service. There’s no walking to a bus stop. With public bus transportation costing taxpayers in excess of $60 billion a year, an Uber/Lyft option would be a fraction of that cost.

Computer modeling can also be used to evaluate options to transport passengers quickly and at lower costs. Artificial intelligence can anticipate and plan scheduling for on-demand service to efficiently meet door-to-door needs.

Public transit needs to streamline and utilize capital and/or subsidies more efficiently. The bus of the future is going to look a lot different. Communities need to plan accordingly.

Frank Mazur

South Burlington

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(2) comments

Heather Juliussen-Stevenson

Increasing use of mass transit would reduce carbon dioxide by 6.57 gigatons by 2050. Ridesharing costs nothing and would save us $185.6 billion. Electric bikes would save us over $100 billion. We need to change the way we're doing things if we want to survive.


I agree. Every time I see one of those full-sized city buses heading somewhere I wonder just how many people are actually using it. Some do, I know. At the very least The Bus could downsize those big buses, maybe get electric ones. My son has an 8 passenger SUV that is all electric with gas back-up. He lives in L.A. so it's easy for him to recharge daily, if need be. Because he also has solar panels, it costs him virtually nothing to drive but the car payments and insurance. I wonder how often those big buses have more than 7 passengers. Wouldn't it be great for The Bus to pay next to nothing for fuel? To say nothing of the reduction in noxious fumes and CO2.

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