I’ve discussed this a bit before, but it’s starting to get me really frustrated. Please, someone tell me, why do people hate buses?
Over the past few days, it seems like all I hear are complaints about AC Transit and excuses why people don’t ride buses. Some of this is pretty absurd:
- One of my co-workers bought a new pair of heels and by the time she got to the office, she had blisters all over her feet. She convinced herself that she could never wear heels again to work because she walks 20 minutes to BART every day and it hurts too much. I asked her (as I have many times before), why she doesn’t just take the bus, as it stops about a block from her apartment. She argued that it would take too long. Granted, it’s the 18 bus, which is not known for its speed, but she does walk 20 minutes to BART, waits on average 5 minutes, and then the ride is 15 minutes long. So her total transit time is 40 minutes! I think the 18 would usually get her to work in about a half hour, and even on a bad day, in 45 minutes. Plus, she could continue to wear her fabulous but not so comfortable heels. I’m still working on her, but I don’t think I’ve convinced her yet.
- A friend’s mom lives in Elmwood and works in downtown Oakland. The 51 bus stops right near her house and would drop her off exactly where BART drops her off. Yet instead of taking the bus, she DRIVES to Rockridge BART every day and then BARTs to work. She uses the same excuse – the bus takes too long.
- Last night, I was at a meeting in downtown Oakland and a couple of UC Berkeley students were there. I was going to take the 1 home so I told them they should come with me, since it’s free for them and much more direct then BART. One of them asked, “Does our bus pass work in Oakland?” I was a bit floored – he’s been at Berkeley for 2 years and didn’t know that his buss pass was good on all AC Transit buses, even the transbay ones. So I thought I had them convinced and we started walking towards the bus stop, but then they decided to take BART instead because they thought the bus would take too long. It was so absurd – they were turning down a FREE, direct bus ride, in order to take BART which they’d then have to walk for 15 minutes from to get home. It made me crazy!
- So all morning I was thinking about this, and then I was listening to The Coup on my bus ride to work, and even Boots Riley hates AC Transit! Really, in their song “Cars and Shoes”, which is about how driving his run down car is still better than walking, he says, “Catchin’ buses be gettin’ me to work late” and then later says that his unreliable car “beats the AC transit blues.” And I started thinking – there are tons of hip hop songs that glorify cars, but I couldn’t think of even one that had a positive message about public transit. In fact, I couldn’t think of a song from any genre that had something good to say about buses!
OK, rant over. But really, I guess I understand why people hate buses – they think they’re unreliable, slow, dangerous, dirty, etc. The really question I have is what can we do about this? I’m going to continue my personal mission of convincing everyone I know to at least try the bus, but that’s not really a long term solution. Especially as BART reaches its capacity, it’s so important for people who want to get out of their cars to know that AC Transit is a great option. So please, help me figure out what we can do to stop all the hatin’.