Because bus ridership has been surging since the mid-oughts, says the industry. Annual trips on intercity buses — not transit, now — jumped from about 631 million in 2005 to about 751 million in 2007, an increase of 19%. The surge is continuing, says American Bus Association spokesman Eron Shosteck.
And, he points out, the reality is that intercity buses carry lots of people: “We move more people in two weeks than Amtrak does in a year,” he said.
So bus ridership is growing like crazy while our government is pouring money into trains? The stories I could tell! I’ve repeatedly seen governments spend money on “new” technology about the time it becomes obsolete. Of course, it’s not just governments. Large bureaucratic organizations have difficulty making timely decisions. By the time they decide, the opportunity has often passed. That’s one reason that anyone who can keep a large institution nimble and responsive deserves a huge paycheck.
As for buses and trains, I’m no expert, but when one idea is attracting private investment and a competing idea needs taxpayer support, I get suspicious.