Public Transit's Quickest Fix: Revolutionize the Bus

Yglesias recently linked to a great New York magazine article, "Subway on the Street," positing that focusing on across-the-board improvements to buses would be the simplest, least expensive way to improve public transportation.

Here's a four-point plan:

1. Pay on the street
More than a third of all bus delays can be attributed to the time it takes passengers to board. Here they will swipe their MetroCards at street kiosks before the bus arrives.

2. Enter at the back
A new fleet of buses improve boarding time by being lower to the ground—and allowing rear-door entrance.

3. Hold the light green
Soon after Select Bus Service launches, buses will be equipped with “signal prioritization” technology that tells upcoming traffic lights to delay turning red.

4. Own the lane
A painted lane will be reserved for buses, and cameras will photograph stray cars and trucks. But some activists—and politicians—criticize the program for not including physically separated lanes.


Although this pertains to New York's MTA, the general strategy of focusing on buses could be the key to public transit revolutions all over the country—especially in cities where subway and rail expansion is cost-prohibitive at a large enough scale for it to be effective.

Could you imagine Los Angeles with dedicated bus (and for that matter bike) lanes all over the city?