Saturday, July 9, 2005

B'burg transit

(Originally posted on Saturday, July 9, 2005 by Cathy)

What I love about Blacksburg transit:

  • Buses run exactly like the schedule says, to the minute.

    This is a first. In Seattle, buses ran pretty much when they felt like it, and could be 10 minutes early or late. (Which meant you could easily stand in the rain for 20 minutes waiting for one.) At VT, you can sit there and watch every bus that timepoints somewhere on the drillfield start up and pull out at exactly quarter past. It verges on freaky.

  • Free buses.

    Ok, technically they're "pre-paid" for VT students/faculty/staff/spouses with ID. But since that's all of B'burg, they're pretty much free. No scrounging for quarters in the bottom of my bag, no waiting while someone else does.
  • They take the by-pass to Christiansburg, instead of stopping every four feet.

What I don't exactly love about Blacksburg transit:

  • Limited summer schedule

    Granted, the ridership I see seems pretty limited, but not running the first bus on the line I need until noon means I can't take the bus to work. Cutting the bus schedule back so far seems counterproductive. Sure, there aren't all that many people on campus in summer, but the ones that are there are almost certainly either graduate students/post-docs, who have to be in first thing in the morning and last thing at night despite the summer schedule (but might sleep in on Sundays since it is summer), students taking and faculty teaching summer classes, most of which are over before noon, and staff, who work pretty much the same schedule in the summer as during the year (but with fewer interruptions). I guess the problem is that the bus I take home is the shopping mall run, and BB transit figures that no one shops before noon anyway. (Given how late our mall opens, this is almost true.)

  • Stupid 20 minute loops around the mall and the Walmart.
    I actually take two buses to get home. The Blacksburg half of the two-town trolley line takes the bypass to the Pepper's Ferry exit, then goes to Walmart, then loops all around the mall before coming to a stop at the movie theater entrance at about 20 'til. At quarter 'til, the Christiansburg half of the TTT heads out. It goes to Walmart, then K-mart, then briefly heads north (right, back towards VT) to catch the DMV and Goodwill. THEN it starts heading towards C'burg. Notice how both buses visit Walmart? If you get off the TTT-B'burg at Walmart, you can actually sit there for 18 minutes (I've timed it) and get on the TTT-C'burg when it gets there. Yep, there's 18 extra minutes in the route. If someone would just offset the two bus-lines by 18 minutes so that the C'burg bus pulled up to Walmart at the same time as the B'burg bus, I could get home in 40 minutes, instead of closer to an hour. And that's without moving a single stop. Let me move the stops around and I could do it in 30. Actually, I guess I'd need to think about the impact on the northbound bus route (maybe that just puts the 18 minutes there), but since the northbound route is precisely useless to me this summer, I'm pretending it doesn't exist anyway.

  • Limited stops

    Ok, I'll fess up. I love the fact that the B'burg bus takes the bypass. But I want the C'burg bus to stop closer to my house. From Pepper's Ferry, there's no point on getting back on the bypass anyway, so the bus just goes south on 460 business. It hits the highlights - the kroger, the rec center - but other than that, it just doesn't stop. It goes right by these places, going no more than 30 mph, with stop lights and all, but you can't get off. I walk twice as far home as I'd have to, if the powers-that-be only thought that letting me off near my corner was worhtwhile. (Unfortunately, the only thing near my corner is a detailing place, which is pretty worthless for a bus rider!) Given that the C'burg bus generally has like three people riding it, having a few extra stops on the book (that the bus just blows past) wouldn't slow it down. And heck, it might just increase ridership if the bus stops occured in quanta of less than 2 miles.

  • Stupid stops

    The B'burg TTT bus makes two stops on the drillfield. The two stops are at 9 and 12 on the clock, if you have a Dali-style clock anyway. At 9 o'clock there is no shade and no bus shelter. But down at 6 o'clock is a nice bus shelter, with benches inside and out. (Did I mention that my office is at 6:15? No bias here.) I don't mind walking up to the 9 o'clock stop when the weather is nice, but when it isn't, a 5 minute walk in the rain with NO nice dry bus shelter at the end of it, when there's a nice dry shelter just outside the door to the building? Seems kinda silly. I got totally drenched on Thursday waiting for that bus to show up.

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