Posts Tagged ‘Street Cars’

Metra Plans for The Future

July 17, 2008

 

  I did something I haven’t done since 1949; I rode a Columbus city bus on a regular route just to see what it is like now. (I have ridden on chartered city busses since then.)  I took the Uptown route because it is the shortest one. I was not comfortable. The wooden seats were hard, really close together, and sometimes I wondered if the bus had any shocks or springs on it, but that was because the Uptown route uses only “trolleys,” busses that look like trolleys.

 

Metra Trolley Bus, 2008

Metra Trolley Bus, 2008

 

 

 
  I think perhaps the real trolleys that Columbus had in the 1900’s rode better because they were on rails and rails don’t have bumps and potholes. The bus trolleys are quaint and perhaps add to the historic district atmosphere, but the people who ride those busses regularly would be better served with the regular, comfortable busses that travel the other eight routes in Columbus. Maybe the trolley buses could be used just for Historic District tours and special events, etc.   
 
 
 

 

 

 Columbus, GA Trolley on 10th Street in 1900

 Columbus, GA Trolley in 1900   Courtesy, Georgia Dept. of Archives and History

  

 The bus made a lot of stops, causing the short route that goes from the transfer station on Linwood Blvd on a loop through downtown Columbus and back to take almost an hour. That route did put the bus stops within two blocks of just about anywhere downtown. And it was definitely being used as people got on and off a lot. At least they didn’t suffer as much as I did on those hard seats because I rode the whole route.
 
 
 

 

 

Metra Trolley Bus Interior

Metra Trolley Bus Interior

  

  As Metra Director Saundra Hunter and I discussed the future of mass transit, we agreed It is a far more fuel efficient way of transporting masses of people than private cars. Also, it leaves a smaller carbon footprint. But, for it to increase ridership , the system has to become more convenient. 

 

  

 Miss a bus at a stop now and you have to wait an hour before another one will come along. She says the system hopes to go to a half-hour between arrivals.  That is going to mean adding 15 new busses to the 40 the system now has, and hiring additional drivers and mechanics.  However, that cost will be offset by an increase in riders.

  

 With the price of gasoline expected to stay high and perhaps get higher, public transportation will, of necessity, make a big comeback. The question isn’t “if” but “how soon?” It took $4 a gallon gas to make people finally switch from their gas guzzling SUV’s and monster trucks to smaller, more fuel efficient cars. It is understandably hard to give up with convenience of cars. I can remember how liberated I felt once I got my first one and didn’t have to walk across the street – we did indeed , at one time live across the street from a bus stop -.to a bus stop and sometimes have to wait up to 15 minutes to catch a bus.  15 whole minutes! I still prefer my car, but I’m willing to switch. It would be a lot cheaper for me to ride the bus downtown from north Columbus, but the nearest stop is two miles away. Guess I could drive to the stop, but I’d have to have a place to park. So Metra has some kinks to work out before it can handle a big switch to buses, but it knows that and already has plans to make the changes.

 

 

 

 

  

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