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Bill King gets on the reimagining bus

I’ve made plenty of sport about Chron columnist Bill King’s failure to acknowledge Metro’s proposed new bus routes despite his longstanding argument that Metro should be prioritizing bus service over light rail, so it’s only fair that I acknowledge that he has finally gotten into the game.

I recently read somewhere that Metro’s prescient critics were blasting Metro’s Reimagining campaign as a plot to reduce the bus service so that Metro could save money.

The Reimagining campaign is looking at ways to schedule and route buses so that service would be more frequent and more predictable. Both are important factors in building ridership. If you have to wait too long or cannot depend on a bus showing up when it is scheduled, you are likely to look for another way to go.

The draft plan calls for less service in some areas, but an increase in frequency in higher-volume areas should more than make up for any lost volume from low-ridership areas.

Of course, any cutback of service to a particular area is going to bring howls of protest from those neighborhoods, and the politicos may force Metro to back off from some of the changes it has planned.

But from a pure “get the most out of the system” standard, this is exactly what you would expect and want Metro to be doing.

Frankly, I am having a hard time understanding the criticism. If you look through the work that has been done on the plan, it is incredibly detailed and appears to have been undertaken in a logical fashion. The complexity of some of the analysis is above my transit pay grade, but other transit buffs I respect, such as Tory Gattis of Houston Strategies, have given the draft plan high initial marks.

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Metro showed a modest but significant uptick in bus ridership last year.

Further, I see nothing in the works that has been done on the Reimagining campaign that smacks of any dissembling.

I take it at face value that it is an honest attempt by the board and management of Metro to react to the steady decline in bus ridership over the last decade.

I would have preferred if they had started the process a little sooner, but hey, better late than never.

Of course, no one knows how well the plan will work, or if it will work at all. But all we can do is try to improve the service, making adjustments as we go.

And I don’t see how continuing to beat up Metro, when they are doing what many of us have advocated for years, advances the ball.

If someone has specific criticisms of the plan details, that is fair game. But condemning the attempt is not.

See here, here, and here. The proposal was unveiled on May 8, almost two months ago, during which time King has written approximately 173 columns on pensions and partisanship, but hey, better late than never. King’s lamentation that some of his allies in the anti-light rail brigade aren’t doing their part to contribute to the transit discourse now that they’ve been given what they’ve been saying they wanted for all these years is…let’s just say “precious” and leave it at that. He doesn’t say what part of the Internet he was strolling through when he happened across this unworthy commentary – I bet I could make some pretty good guesses – nor does he quote any specifics from it, so that’s about all we can say. Be that as it may, I appreciate the effort. It’s a big and important deal, and the more people we have taking it seriously, the better.

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