Friday, April 11, 2008

Overheard in Oakland

A real conversation I overheard today:

Girl #1: Have you learned the bus routes yet?
Girl #2: No I have only used BART.
Guy #1: BART is much better than the bus
Girl #1: I use the 51 sometimes, it comes all the time, but I can't read on it.
Guy #1: I can't either, I feel like I have no room for my arms on the bus and it bounces all over the place
Girl #1: Yeah.
Girl #2: Well I'll figure it out.
Girl #1: Just take BART if you have a choice.

I seem to run into planning related conversations in the background wherever I go. The other night I was eating sushi with a friend and one lady in front of me loudly said: "Urban Planners don't know what they are doing, they just build those roads everywhere" and made a circular motion with her hand. I didn't say anything, but I was thinking "that's the highway engineers lady."


Adam P said...

I work for WSDOT and as far as I'm concerned there is a new generation of engineers coming in. Almost none of us think that we can build our way out of traffic. That is just the baseline assumption.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

That's good to hear. Actually I'm sure that engineers on the coasts are enlightened. There is just no more room. Heck you're reading transit blogs! However try going to Texas and Nebraska and its another story.

CityKin said...

Love that conversation. So true that a bus is always the last resort.

Richard Layman said...

Well, your point proves something that I say, that land use (and transportation) issues are those most likely to get the average citizen involved in local civic affairs.

If I ever get a PhD in planning, my hoped for dissertation topic would be on reconceptualizing the profession around enabling civic engagement.

Then again, last year's job was such a bad experience wrt civic engagement that I question that...

Re the other comments, I use whatever is the fastest mode constrained by cost. If a bus is faster, I'll use it, and many of the places in DC have great bus service.

But like the one person said, I too can't read on a bus, while I can on a train.

OTOH, I'll ride the Chinese buses up and down the East Coast--I can read on inter-city bus coaches--because they are cheap, even though I like trains.

Richard Layman said...

Buses don't have to be the last resort. Make them better.

E.g., I think we should convert bus systems into doubledeckers where appropriate, just to sex up the system and make it more fun and "higher end" like in London.

In NorthAm, Victoria BC and Las Vegas use doubledeckers, Community Transit in WA has a couple, and places like SF have tested it.