What, you say? But you wrote an article in the Atlantic called The Bus is Still Best! You redesign bus networks for a living! You’ve been a skeptic about all kinds of new alternatives to the bus, from monorails to streetcars-stuck-in-traffic t0 “microtransit.” Have you changed your mind?
I am a freedom advocate, which means that I like it when people can go places, and therefore do things, and therefore have better lives more rich with choice and opportunity. And when I analyze how to deliver freedom cost-effectively, the fixed route bus turns out to be the right answer in a huge percentage of cases. It’s not right in all cases, and where it isn’t I don’t recommend it. (Where a community has other goals, that too can yield a different answer, which is fine. It’s their community.)
But it’s increasingly common to read things like this
Entrenched beliefs that the bus or rail is best, period — and that ridership and scalability are all that matter — stop us from seeing all the places where we can leverage technology and new ideas.
[UPDATE: This article has since been revised in response to my objections.]
The word “bus” was a link to my Atlantic article, whose headline, “The Bus Is Still Best,” I dislike but could not control. The implication of this link is that I am “entrenched” in an emotional attachment to buses the way that many people can be emotionally attached to trains or airplanes or Porsches or whatever.
Such attachments may also just be financial interests. For example, huge amounts of venture capital are being spent making it sound like microtransit is a world-changing idea, and to attack those of us who honestly can’t make mathematical sense of that claim as being rigid, stuck in our ways, “entrenched.”
In fact, I feel no emotions about transport technologies. My shelves are not full of cardboard model buses. And where the right answer to the problem of efficiently providing freedom isn’t a bus, I don’t recommend a bus. I have recommended all kinds of technologies in different situations. I want to achieve goals, and I look for tools that do that in each situation.
Above all, I hope I’m known for suggesting that our thinking should start with goals rather than emotional excitement about technologies, and that this requires some serious effort, because every technology salesperson wants us to do the opposite: first, get excited about a technology, then try to come with a goal that could justify it. As soon as “innovation” becomes a goal in itself rather than a tool, we are headed down that slippery slope.
So I’m not surprised that I get attacked now and then, and now here’s a post as a ready-made response. Next time you see someone say that I am (or you are) a “bus advocate,” or “entrenched,” just send them a link to this. Thank you!
 Or, if you prefer, an access advocate.
 Never, ever link to something based only on the headline! Headlines express the attitudes of the publication, not the writer. (I am slapping my own wrist as I write this, because I’ve been guilty too.)
 … which is not to criticize emotional attachments. I have them too about many things. As always, I am describing myself, not judging you!
 This assumption about financial interest also gets projected onto me sometimes, so for the record: I have no financial link with any bus manufacturer, bus operating company, etc.
 … though if yours are, that’s wonderful! As always, I am describing myself, not judging you!