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.