Tulsa's bus problem nothing new
BY World's Editorials Writers
Saturday, September 15, 2012
9/15/12 at 3:19 AM
Questions about - and problems within - Tulsa's bus service have been around quite a while. So, the new City Council has discovered the bus system and has asked for another study to try to fix it.
Councilors have told Tulsa Transit that they want to see a plan that would shrink the bus system's coverage area to provide more timely service at the current funding level.
The bus pickup times are abysmal. What else is new? The average wait time in Tulsa is 55 minutes. That can be tough in rain, sleet, snow or 100-degree temperatures. The questions, however, are: Will shorter wait times mean more people will ride the bus? Or will fewer routes with shorter wait times mean fewer riders?
Tulsa has never been and likely never will be a mass transit city. Tulsans love their cars as much as the old West cowboys loved their horses. That's too bad. Fuel prices aren't going down much anytime soon. Highways, roads, streets and bridges will continue to need costly maintenance and expansions. A good mass transit system could help lessen those problems.
And there is this: A good portion of Tulsa's population relies on the buses to get to work, the doctor, the store and home. Many of those people are poor and can't afford a car and the costs that go with them. If Tulsa starts cutting routes, those are the people most likely to be affected.
Some of the south Tulsa routes might be where ridership is lower. Those routes, however, might be delivering folks in north and west Tulsa to jobs in the southern portion of the city. Should they be cut simply to lessen wait times in other areas?
Maybe smaller buses or even large vans could take the place of buses in the areas where ridership is low.
The bus system is publicly funded and should serve all the city's population. This is not to say that throwing money at the bus system is the answer. But funding for the system has declined over the last decade and keeping routes running will cost more.
It's always good to take a fresh look at a problem.
Tulsa needs and deserves an efficient, dependable bus system for the entire city as well as a good trolley system to serve downtown, Cherry Street and Brookside.
What the city has now is unacceptable. The study might not help, but it can't hurt.
Original Print Headline: Bus woes
Riders file onto a bus at the downtown station. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World file