Pitchfork Press

Cronkite Summer Journalism Institute 2012

Bus Transit: A New Trend

A bus traveling around Phoenix

Every Phoenix resident knows that their town is a big city and is hard to get around. We may be tempted to travel to places by car, but bus transit may be the better option.

Why? Sure, traveling by bus has a lot of environmental benefits, but for non-environmentalists, these benefits have no meaning to them. There are, however, some benefits that everyone should know for his own good.

I had the chance to talk with Susan Tierney, a media official at the Valley Metro. She addressed everyone in the world, not just the so-called “environmental freaks.”

First, bus transit provides service at time of need. Admittedly, some cities lack organized bus transit system. Phoenix, however, has an efficient system with punctual arrival times. In busy routes, there is only an interval of a few minutes between arrival times.

It does not make much difference whether you travel by a car or bus in this situation. So why not save money while traveling the same way?

The previous question brings me to my second point. Gas prices are rising. Recently, they have been going down a bit but it will remain high in long term. An all-day bus pass costs less than a gallon of gas. An all-day bus pass costs $3.50, and in some cases, the highest gas price climbs fairly well over that price.

Perhaps this explains Tierney’s comment on the ridership trend: “Looking at the first quarter of the year, we actually had an increase in ridership with the exception of the strike in March.” She also says that there was a 4% increase in ridership over the previous year. It seems that people have become more economically aware; start making the same smart choice.

Gas prices aren’t the only concern that people have. So much more goes into financing a car such as parking fees and car maintenance cost.

In every big city, parking space appears to be minimum and hard to find. When you do find one, parking meters can be ridiculous. Even worse, if you are in a hurry, you can forget to check for the parking fee, get a ticket or even towed. Is a car ownership worth this much trouble?

Tierney mentioned an important point that most people do not consider often. Driving can be a hassle, especially on a long trip with only one driver available. She mentioned that bus transit “takes the stress out of your travel.”

But it’s not just the relaxation you can enjoy with bus transits. There are no restrictions on texting, talking or use of distracting devices while driving. If you use the bus on the way to work, you can get work done through your phone. Two seconds of distraction won’t do you any harm on a bus.

Of course, it would be impractical of me to advise anyone to completely abandon cars and to designate bus transit as his or her only source of transportation. Cars are a great invention, but it may be worthwhile to take a break once in awhile.

-Diana Lee, Staff Reporter

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