Deep inside the Atlantic magazine's Cities section, an article on restructuring a bus network! The city is Tallahassee, and the redesign team included Samuel Scheib of StarMetro, who comments here now and then. The redesign took an all-radial system, reduced the number of lines but increased their length, and introduced some new non-downtown connection points and even some lines that don't go downtown at all.
Few journalists would consider the topic interesting, but the article by Emily Badger takes the lay reader through the issues, highlights the relationship to city-building concerns, and generally helps it make sense. I wish every journalist — or even every New York Times reporter — took this kind of care to understand a planning issue. Given how well Badger explains the issue, I wouldn't have minded if she'd also interviewed some riders who are personally inconvenienced by the change. But most journalists cover only the latter, as though their goal is to maximize rage rather than understanding.
This quote from Scheib was interesting:
“If you talk to a land-use planner, typically they would want you to keep … service focused more on the downtown because they want more people to live downtown, in that dense environment. I’m all for that, I’m all for urbanization, I’m all for denser places,” Scheib said. “But the reality is that people need to get to work. And you’ve got to go where the jobs are."
I can assure you that this change won't damage downtown. I was hanging around Portland's TriMet in 1982 (in the indispensible role of teenage transit geek) when they totally restructured the inner city bus system, creating a grid pattern with many crosstowns that don't go downtown at all. Several of those crosstowns are now among Portland's most productive lines. But downtown Portland survived, to say the least.