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Alexander

Apparently not him. Please don't be sarcastic; roads with dead-ends are obviously pretty quiet, but the analogy doesn't seem obvious or right. Maybe you (or someone else who understands this problem, because I only have a rough idea I've got from your "metro to the beach" style posts) should send the Brisbane media a nice polite email explaining what the problem is, in the hopes that next time they have an issue, they might ask you for an intelligent comment.

Warren Rempel

Another point that could be made is that taxpayers, almost without complaint, continue to pay for every square meter of the highway and road system, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, even though they lie empty and unused for the vast majority of that time....
Public transit, like the road network, should be viewed as an essential utility which, even though it may be 'underutilized' at times, provides an important service. Those without the means to afford an auto, deserve the same access to mobility in our society as those who own a vehicle.

Ed O

Jarrett,
Are you saying that the newspaper is silly for printing this quote; or that the local resident is silly for not understanding how transit lines work? He's calling it like he sees it. We can try to guess what may have motivated the newspaper to quote a member of the general public about the operational efficiency of the new service. I suspect Mr Morris has other specific issues about the service near his home, but his story has much broader public appeal when framed as an example of government waste - which of course, everyone hates. There's always more than one side to a story, and at least we know that not everyone's happy, even if the explicit reasons for local concerns have not been fully conveyed in this one article.

EngineerScotty

It's entirely possible that Mr. Morris would rather not pay for transit at all (and never uses it himself). This sort of comment is heard all the time from local anti-transit advocates, who would be for killing off the busses even if every last seat was filled at every hour of the day.

Jennifer

We get a lot of comments from people who complain about the "half-empty" buses or buses or light rail vehicles with only a few people in them late a night (or far out in the county where the lines terminate), and people want to know why we don't use smaller buses during off-peak time. No one ever makes the connection to roads on their own (that roads have peak usage and off-peak usage as well). Also, it's helpful to explain why adding an entire fleet of smaller-sized buses to run during off-peak hours is actually more expensive than running what we have even if only a few people are on board.

And you can bet that anyone making this comment has never actually ridden the route they are critiquing during rush hour!

M1EK

We get this complaint so much in Austin I made a blog category for it:

http://mdahmus.monkeysystems.com/blog/archives/cat_empty_buses.html

The most recent post (at the top) is extra-bilious.

Watson

We get a lot of comments from people who complain about the "half-empty" buses or buses or light rail vehicles with only a few people in them late a night (or far out in the county where the lines terminate), and people want to know why we don't use smaller buses during off-peak time. No one ever makes the connection to roads on their own (that roads have peak usage and off-peak usage as well).

The comparison doesn't make sense. You can't eliminate fixed infrastructure like roads during periods of low use. But you can eliminate transit services. If most of the buses running late at night or early in the morning are empty, or almost so, at the end of the route, that suggests you should run fewer buses, or shorten the route, at those times.

I see nothing silly about the allegedly silly quote here. The resident is complaining that the demand for the transit services in question is too low to justify the cost of providing them.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

@Ed O, Watson.  I'm certainly not questioning the sincerity of anyone involved, but I would say it's poor (but typical) journalism to just quote some random person without putting their view into some kind of factual context.  It's not hard to explain to a rational person that unless a bus route ends at a major anchor, like a CBD, it's going to be empty at the end of the line, which means that the load at the last stop is zero information about how worthwhile or popular the line is.  I don't think it's too much to ask a journalist to figure that out.  (I agree, I'm being idealistic, but in blogs there's a place for that.)

Ed O

I'm sure the journalist would have been capable of understanding and conveying to readers the common phenomenon of decreasing numbers of passengers on buses as they approach the ends of their lines - but can we be sure a text book explanation was called for in this instance? I'm often surprised how cluey journalists are about the matters they report on. For all we know, there may actually be something in Mr Morris' story, and the journalist rightly or wrongly decided to quote him directly on this. In the early days of a new service, it's hard to tell if all the operational arrangements and service levels are appropriate, and after a few months, the transit operator will need to decide if any service adjustments are required. It's possible that the journalist had a point in including this quote from Mr Morris (even though his actual motivation may be to stop the noise that is keeping him awake at night).

Daniel

Perhaps the double-negative in the quote from TransLink should be a sign the reporting was not as robust as it should be:

"CityGlider services late Friday and Saturday nights were well patronised but no specific data was not collated"

Perhaps it's a misquote and perhaps it isn't. If I was the reporter and that was the actual quote, I'd ask the interviewee to rephrase it.

Watson

Sorry, but I still don't see why you think it's silly to conclude, based on the observation that there are very few riders at the last stop on the route in the early hours of the morning, that the route should be shortened or the buses run less frequently at that time of day. Morris isn't saying the route isn't worthwhile at all. He's just saying it's excessive to run buses "all the way to the terminal" at eight minute intervals in the early hours of the morning given the very low demand. Seems like a rational conclusion to me.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

@Watson.  Good question.  Because as a bus approaches the end of the line  -- ANY end of the line -- it's useful for fewer destinations and thus tends to empty out.  The only way to counter this is to "anchor" the line, that is, end at a major destination that will always deliver high ridership.  But such destinations don't exist in a lot of places.  The comment was silly because it wasn't just suggesting that the service was extending to far.  It was judging the merit of the entire line, at certain times of day, based on the ridership at the endpoint. 

Alon Levy

There actually is a road equivalent of axing late night service: closing down lanes on a multi-lane road at less busy times. This has the effect of reducing speeds to the design speed of the road. When it's not done, off-peak speeds may be excessive.

Nathanael

"Also, it's helpful to explain why adding an entire fleet of smaller-sized buses to run during off-peak hours is actually more expensive than running what we have even if only a few people are on board."

Yeah. Though if you could somehow use the smaller buses for extra peak-only services during peak hours, it might be a sensible thing to do....

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