Is there a more depressing sight than an empty in service bus in a major town or city? Maybe there is, perhaps a full in service bus in the driving rain that you’re trying to get onto.

Anyway, it’s hard to run through all the reasons in a minute or less as to why I find an empty bus depressing. The lost productivity, the inefficient use of my tax-paying dollars, the additional traffic burden of a vehicle not designed for the narrow streets of an ancient city but which only makes sense if it’s nearly full and takes a number of cars off the road. Where to start?

Buses are designed to ease traffic by offering commuters a cost-effective and convenient way of getting into the centre of town so they don’t have to stomach high parking charges and hideous traffic. Throw in bus lanes, and buses and taxis combine to make city centre navigation by public transport bearable, preferable and sometimes even enjoyable.

But when you see empty buses around the place, then someone has got the load planning way wrong. Maybe it’s political, or maybe they don’t care, don’t want to improve the service, I don’t know. For me, it’s like using a service that’s supposed to be every 15 minutes, but really it’s every 30 minutes because buses gather in twos or even threes and convoy the route, taking it in turns to leapfrog each other at each stop, for an easier life. It’s not in the interests of the paying customer, because the organisation is not genuinely incentivised by and therefore geared to the needs of the paying customer.

 

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