I recently read an article on Buffalo News... Why, I have no clue, as the news paper is not known to be very informative. NFTA bus plan is trying to reinvent yesterday written by James E. Carr. The text, quoted for reference is located here: JamesCarr.png.
Right off the bat, it is obvious James didn't put any real research into this article. The rail line in Buffalo was opened and operational as it is today in 1985, which is 36 years ago. Not 50. They began construction of the line in 1979, which is 42 years ago. Again, not 50.
The whole idea of using driverless vehicles to move people around... Really? Is this a joke? This isn't April Fools. So in a typical Buffalo snow storm, where the lanes aren't visible, and the roads are littered with obstructions. Cars parked in lanes, usually snow covered. 2 Lane roads, narrowed to a single lane because of piles of snow, and such. Those automated vehicles are going to navigate that well? Nope! The only thing they will do is tie up traffic and get stuck. Which is also safe to say, in good weather too. Not to mention all those roads in Buffalo which Urban Planners, like this James Carr fellow, decided to reduce to single lanes with those ever so useful bicycle lanes which I see are so very well utilized. But now the street gets jammed with gridlock when the snow flies.
Obviously the writer has no connection to the community he is pretending to be sympathetic to. Yeah sure, people have to walk to bus stops. And walk from bus stops. But guess what? we could all use a little walking. And if you are unable to walk, there is always a Paratransit option which is more point-to-point. Yes busses cost money to operate, but it is far more cost effective than running and maintaining small point to point vehicles that can only carry a couple people. Not to mention environmentally more sound.
I don't have exact figures, but roughly calculated, if you operate a bus with 15 riders per trip, you are effectively paying for the operating cost of the bus for that specific run. If you have more than 15 riders per trip, you will begin to pay for the infrastructure that supports that bus. At about 20 riders per trip, on a single bus, you can begin to turn a profit depending upon the bus's type and service record. Yes public transit is in part funded by the taxpayer - it is a tax burden. But not as much of a tax burden, a huge fleet of automated vehicles would be, for the same amount of ridership - or more. Because those vehicles will never actually make a profit if operated in a socially paid structure.
And the vandalism in an unsupervised vehicle would be absurd. You think it is bad now, not knowing if that puddle on the floor of the bus is pee, or water? What about getting into a small confined vehicle, with cloth seats where some drunk just pissed his pants? Or someone was just hot boxing the vehicle, and you end up getting high on your journey. Not to mention the spit, and gum and other things that would litter the inside of such a vehicle with no supervision. Heck, I wouldn't put it past people to have sex on the seats during a ride. And imaging being the next one in, opening the door to the smell of sex, and cum dripping down the seat? Nope!
Currently, there are many programs out there which will provide free bus passes to individuals in need. And the cost of a fare is only $2 if you do have to pay. The cost of fares for automated Uber style vehicles will likely be far higher, and again, who will pay? The tax payers? The non-profits? I mean, if he is talking about something that is socially funded, that just isn't realistic or responsible. If people want to travel in a more comfortable environment, sure they can pay for their own Uber ride. Or even get a vehicle of their own.
Improving a corridor, with better Bus Shelters is a great idea. Of course what is often overlooked, is that Bus Shelters are often vandalized and in turn require constant upkeep. But they also do help attract more riders, if there is a sheltered place for people to wait. They also provide Ad space, which can be the source for additional revenue.
This is totally a fine example of just how shitty the News coverage is today, especially from Buffalo News.