Improving the efficiency of bus service is great for passengers -- getting people to their destination faster and more dependably. Improving efficiency is also great for the transit system and the taxpayer -- faster buses means more frequent service can be run with the same number of buses. This is a virtuous cycle -- the faster the bus is the more people will choose to ride it.
A coalition of local transit advocacy groups has made a number of recommendations for improving New York City bus service that could be useful in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh:
- Allow all-door boarding by changing how fares are collected
- Redesign indirect routes
- Right size the distance between bus stops
- Adopt better operational methods to keep buses on schedule
- Design streets to prioritize buses, including optimizing traffic signals and creating bus queue-jump lanes at intersections
The in-depth analysis by these groups is based on research and thoughtful engagement with riders. There is no comparable group of advocates in Philadelphia. There are people who have ideas, as in this recent opinion piece by Jon Geeting, and there will be more ideas generated at a forum hosted by the Inquirer today. Ideas are an important beginning — but they are only a beginning. We need to figure out how to convert the interest in improving bus service into a campaign that generates proposals that SEPTA can take action on.