Well, this was great to see! A piece by the always-wise NYT columnist Farhad Manjoo.
What I like about the piece is that he runs through the typical confusions and prejudices about the bus. It’s kind of like he’s driving, well, a bus, picking up each reader in the neighborhood of their own assumptions before delivering them all them to his point. Having gathered his readers, he takes them to London, and points out that the most important thing about London’s buses isn’t just that they are iconic, or sustainable, or easy to pay the fare on. The important thing is that there are lots of them.
But the major innovation in London’s buses is less technological than numerical. The magic is one of scale — there are simply enough buses in London to allow for frequent, reliable service to the parts of the city that people want to travel to.
This is the point. Successful transit is mass transit. If it doesn’t scale, it doesn’t matter.