Unless the city is ready to do something innovative with transit, studying the issue again is a waste of time and money.
And there is little evidence the city wants to innovate.
Besides, there really is no city bus problem.
The people who need to ride the bus do so. Those with cars drive. Simple. So what’s the problem?
Well, you might argue, people should ride the bus. It’s good for the environment.
Which might be true. But so what?
Beyond talk and empty gestures, society demonstrates little willingness to make the sacrifices necessary to safeguard the environment.
People drive because it’s easy. They don’t associate the cost of fillups, oil changes and regular maintenance with their seven-minute drive to work each morning. It is a habit, the cost is deferred and, of course, convenience trumps all.
If gas were $1.75 a litre, parking were scarce and spaces cost drivers $200 a month, $250 with electrical hookup, things might change.
People might consider taking the bus.
But that’s not the situation today. Driving in Whitehorse is still relatively cheap and definitely easy. So most of us drive. Everywhere.
And the buses zip around empty.
Yet the bus issue surfaces every year, or so. The city vows to study the problem. And so it does – examining routes and fares and schedules.
Then everything stays the same. The people who need to ride the bus gather at wind-whipped stops. The rest of us drive past them, oblivious.
This happens because nobody is willing to address the real problem. Which isn’t buses at all.
If it were more expensive and difficult to drive, fewer people would do it. Demand for the bus system would increase.
The dynamic would change.
But that’s not likely in the near future. Especially with a private developer proposing to increase the number of parking stalls downtown.
When it comes to improving transit, the problem isn’t buses. It’s cars.
Any successful plan would lay out how the city was going to make driving more expensive and less convenient. That’s the key to building support for a public bus system.
But that’s not going to happen.
So, we ask again, what’s the problem? What’s another bus study going to do?
It is simply a waste of time, money and paper. (Richard Mostyn)