Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Better Bus service through efficiency - Is there a free lunch after all?

It seems like a Republican dream come true: Revamp an entire bus system of more than 1200 buses serving about 4 million people and dozens of lines in one fell swoop. Wake up on August 17 and voila: Better service all around and no added cost.

We are talking about Houston here which has already become famous for this planned swift government action before it actually happened. This recipe, efficiency by squeezing the lemon some more, attracts all those who really don't believe government should play an important role or spend more money on transit.
Harris County Metro  bus (Next City)

In Maryland MDOT Secretary Rahn has drunk the kool-aid and is happily returning $900 million of federal aid, seemingly saying: hey, we do system efficiency, you can keep your money!

Never mind that this has been already tried by his Republican predecessor Bob Flannigan in an attempt that carried the name GBBI (Greater Baltimore Bus Initiative) and went up in flames. Never mind that the previous MTA administrator lost his job because he put a large price tag on his own initiative BNIP (Bus Network Improvement Program). Never mind, that Houston located in the Republican heartland and seat of Harris County in which the transit agency Metro has engaged in a full fledged rail transit build out as well and operates a rainbow of red, green and purple light rail lines (sounds familiar?). None of this has stopped the latest saviors on a white horse to say that they will do a bus overhaul for free, and maybe overnight? 

Logic would say, if you can do this bus thing for free, why then scuttle the Red Line? Why not both? Rahn, the Secretary, repeated even yesterday that the problem with the Red Lime was that it took all the money. But it is hard to believe someone who says that money is really the core concern who is returning nearly a billion to the Feds without batting an eye. 
Baltimore buses, stuck in traffic on Eutaw Street

Meanwhile, if you care about the Baltimore area bus system with its over 800 buses serving 47 local lines, four local express and four shuttle lines, four Quick Bus lines, four regional express bus lines and 27 commuter bus routes, not to mention the mobility van service, then tune in at WYPR's Midday today.
Dan Rodricks will be exploring Houston in some more detail and I will try to help him to sort things out here at home.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

1 comment:

  1. Will be very interesting to see how Houston's Metro transit changes work out Aug. 16th.