Home > Visual Stimulus > Have You Shot A #BestBusRide Image Yet? Still Time.

Have You Shot A #BestBusRide Image Yet? Still Time.

My #BestBusRide contribution to Good Magazine’s call for camera phone submissions of the best bus ride in  America. Leave the SLR at home…

Riding BATA’s Cherryland Cherriot to downtown for birthday shopping.

I had a choice to 1) use the above photo and make a statement how walkable neighborhoods are part of a good public transportation system; or, 2) use the image below to make fun of the horrible use of space that a surface parking lot is in a downtown setting.

I went with the positive, but it was a toss-up.

Good Still Taking Submissions:

  • Email photo & caption to–> busroutes@goodinc.com
  • Or, Tweet both to–> @GOOD using #bestbusride
  • (Extra: let us know on MyWHaT)

  1. Anonymouse
    November 11, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Do you actually ride these busses yourself? I rode them a few times (talking about BATA cherriots) and the drivers drive in a scary manner. Also, they have no regard for the people on the bus. I had an injury at the time which made it impossible for me to drive a car or ride my bike, but the bus was no better because of the way they take corners so hard and don’t wait for you to sit before taking off.

    And another thing, one year my friend and I wanted to go down to the cherry festival on the bus because it was too hot to bike and parking is a nightmare during that time, so we tried to ride the bus. We checked the schedule and went to the bus stop but the bus never came!!! Another problem is that the bus never goes where I need to go, such as the university center in the winter and doctors offices not in the cherriot routes.

    Like I’m going to walk up Cass from S. Airport or along Silver Lake Rd??? MAYBE in the summer, but add in winter where the snow is just piled along the shoulder with no room to walk and the dangerous roads with people speeding along them, no way!! I’m just so not impressed with the bus service around here. Also, it’s cheaper to drive my small car around than to take that bus, have to wait in the cold, have to walk on dangerous roads…NO THANKS

  2. Richard Miller
    November 11, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I am a resident on Oak Street. I have watched the Traverse Express rumble down (and up) my residential street hourly, daily since its inception in July, usually empty, occasionally occupied by a single passenger and, very rarely, “filled” with three. The passing of empty busses significantly exceeds those Very, very, very rarely has the number exceeded three. Yes, that’s THREE out of FORTY (?) seats. My 8:00 am “check out” run (an hour circuit) netted four riders total (myself and the driver not included) none of whom rode more than few stops.

    The concept of urban transit is a proven benefit in urban environments of sufficient density and population. But fixed route systems cannot, and never will efficiently move people in regions as small as Grand Traverse County. No amount of route modification will ever justify the enormous waste of public financing—better spent on roundabouts—and energy resources or the utterly inappropriate intrusion into residential neighborhoods!

  3. November 11, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    It’s unfortunate that you both, A-mouse and Richard, have had such negative experiences with BATA. I personally can’t share those experiences, or at least not to the extent I sense from your comments.

    I’m not a frequent rider, but catching the bus to go downtown is certainly an option that I use, and increasingly use as winter presents. When I do, I have noticed more and more that the bus does have passengers on it, that it is on time and that drivers are very friendly and courteous. That said, they do share driving habits that I see many motorists share; they occasionally go too fast, they race to catch green lights and take corners too fast. At least I haven’t seen a BATA driver texting, drinking coffee and driving at the same time–which I see almost on a daily basis with single occupant vehicles.

    BATA certainly has room to improve. I don’t share your sentiments that an improved route system, which BATA is working on, won’t ameliorate some of the issues. It won’t solve everything, but it will assist the community in achieving a viable, micro-urban/rural public transportation system. If we are to solve our worst transportation and roadway context sensitive issues, public transport is required.

    However, it is a choice. When we see that buses are running empty, perhaps we could consider supporting it by riding it once in awhile. I for one enjoy augmenting getting around the city by foot with short BATA connections.

    Last year’s BATA Survey is a good resource on some of the opportunities we have in the community and the work of connecting the regional public transportation agencies is also strengthening.

  4. James
    November 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    It’s too bad to hear about your bad experience.

    It sounds like bus system isn’t for you. (If it doesn’t go where you need to go, then I’m not sure why you would take it anyway.)

    If you think it’s an important asset to the community, like most people do, you may want to consider trying to help improve it.

    There are quite a few people that are not very impressed with the service, but instead of complaining, they are working to help make it better. Just a thought.

  5. November 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Getting a little off topic, I know, but I need to give BATA a pat on the back…

    I’m not a frequent BATA rider. In fact, I recently rode BATA for the first time in decades. I was very pleased by the timeliness of the Traverse Express bus I rode, the friendliness of the driver, and the manner in which he drove. I found myself in a pinch, and BATA came through like a champ. I now consider BATA part of my arsenal of transportation options. Thanks, BATA.

  6. Richard Miller
    November 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    It’s easy to misunderstand my position on BATA. I do support meeting REAL public transportation needs and opportunities. But they must be real, not just well-intentioned. I live in town, ride my bike regularly, walk in the winter. I visit N.Y. and Chicago regularly and am perfectly satisfied using the convenient bus and subway transit there. But, such are the logistics there that trains and busses do not run regularly empty or nearly so and in a timely manner that an hour’s errand does not require three. Short of much greater density and far higher population, that will NEVER be the case here. I do not enjoy driving for itself, but I do enjoy the enormous convenience of completing numerous errands quickly, comfortably, and timely, something I would never be able to accomplish with anything like the present or envisioned bus system in our area. And I’m certain that in that I am, and will continue to be, the norm. That’s just the way it is, and we’re foolish and wasting our energy and funds in believing otherwise.

    What we DO need is a public system that meets the special needs of the relatively small number of our community that cannot drive. Unfortunately, those numbers will never be great enough to support anything like an in-city fixed route system. There may be some good alternative to dial-a-ride; I’m not aware of such.

    Incidentally, it’s shortly after 4:00 pm, the first of two “express” busses just passed by: EMPTY!

  7. Anonymouse
    November 11, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I’m not convinced that it’s an important asset to our community. The only reason I vote for it when millages come up is because I’m aware that some people can’t drive and can’t walk/bike and would be stranded without it.

    I was very dismayed to hear of the horrible things that happened to some of the disabled passengers on BATA buses in recent times.

    I also agree with Richard Miller that this area is just not large enough for a fixed route bus.

    Also, at $1.50 one way it’s cheaper for me to drive my car. The car is also faster and far more convenient. Heck, it’s often faster to just bike it or walk!

    I really don’t see how it can possibly improve, maybe by going back to just dial-a-ride since that not-able-to-drive population is really who they are serving anyway.

    Those people might as well have a bus come right to their door rather than trying to get to a bus stop and to be expected to walk for a mile or two after they get near their destination.

    Now as for your comment about not taking it because it doesn’t go where I need to go, that complaint was about not having my own transportation at times, or not being physically able to drive, and needing to go to a doctor appointment or to school and can’t get there because cabs are too expensive and the bus doesn’t go there.

    What good is having a bus system that doesn’t go where people need to go? I’m sure I’m not the only one attending the UC or going to see doctors up at Copper Ridge.

  8. November 11, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    Richard and Anon – It’s good to get your honest feedback, but as a regular bus rider I am compelled to reply because your experiences and opinions are drastically different from mine. First, I live well outside of town in Leelanau County, but work downtown. As a result of having a fixed route bus stop within 1 1/2 miles of my house, my family of 4 (2 busy daughters and a working wife in TC) was able sell our second family car. So we NEED a bus, and feel very satisfied that we are saving energy and using our tax dollars wisely.

    Also, as a regular rider, I can say that the11 seat Empire Village Connector bus is typically carrying between 3 and 6 riders in to town on both morning routes, and is often full on the last bus home in the evening. Certainly heading out of town in the morning it is usually empty. But as I look out my bus window into the windows of all the cars carrying only one person, I bristle a bit when non-bus riders talk about “empty seats”. I am more offended by the empty seats in all of the single occupancy automobiles that drive on the same subsidized road as our public bus.

    Finally, the suggestion that fixed routes won’t work in our less urban region is patently false. If we are ever to expand ridership beyond those without a choice, we MUST invest in fixed routes. No one with a choice will ride a bus that cannot reliably pick them up and deliver them on a schedule.

    I understand that the bus routes don’t currently travel to all the places everyone wants to go. Fortunately, BATA is currently examining their routes with the intent of updating them by spring. While routes will never be perfect for everyone, or completely full, I’m quite sure that they can serve more than just those who can’t drive if they are reliable and convenient.

    But in the end, I’m just glad to know that both of you support the BATA millage. I’ll enjoy riding the system that you are helping pay for, and will continue to work to improve it so that someday when you need it, it will work for you too.

  9. November 11, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    Gary – I really want to submit my bus route, because I believe it must be one of the best in America. Connecting the villages of Empire, Glen Arbor, Maple City and Cedar, and passing the beaches, sand dunes, orchards, woodlots and lake views what could be more beautiful? But what makes it even better are the people – we have a great mix of great people riding the bus for a variety of reasons, and really nice drivers.
    Unfortunately – my scheduled rides this time of year are all in the dark. I can’t get a decent picture on my regular schedule, and I haven’t had a chance to ride ‘off schedule’. I may be able to get one tomorrow… But it’s a winner no matter what. Here’s my tweet:

    @good #bestbusride Empire MI route travels past sand dunes, beaches & orchards linking commuters from 4 friendly villages with Traverse City

  10. Bill Palladino
    November 11, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    This all brings up BATA’s greatest challenge. It’s not providing good and timely service, or clean busses, or smart drivers, or stops that make sense. The biggest issue for BATA in this community is proving its worth in a mostly rural, sparsely populated region.

    Can it work? Yes, I believe strongly that it can and in fact that it does work. It’s important to understand that BATA’s current system is based on a design for serving primarily riders of necessity, not riders of choice. It’s this transition that is causing so much controversy. Tom Menzel has already taken great strides in beginning to change the organization to serve the emerging needs of this community. It’s not an easy. We live in Michigan after all, a place that defines itself by how many of its citizens buy and use automobiles.

    Instead of complaining about the problems that may be part of BATA’s institution, I only wish people chiming in here and elsewhere would work with BATA and try to be part of a solution that works for everyone. I’m very optimistic about the organization and its future, and especially optimistic about the future of public transportation here.

    From a regional economic perspective BATA, and other alternatives to single occupancy automobile use, will eventually pay real dividends to all of our citizens. And I’m not just talking about aesthetic dividends. There are real financial benefits to communities that use and encourage public transportation. Working with BATA today, is a wise and cheap investment in this region’s future.

  11. November 12, 2010 at 11:52 am

    NOTE: MyWHaT featured a post about Mr. Lively’s BATA experience back in the spring: Man Chooses Bus Over Car Ownership, Survives

  12. November 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    A resource that I enjoyed reading, but haven’t had a chance to fully explore or write about is Transportation 4 America’s profile of 12 small, rural communities defying the notion that rural living and transit don’t mix.It’s titled: Livability and transit in small towns and rural communities (PDF)

    It’s also important to remember that despite the lack of regional political structure, we are really a region of 80-100 thousand people. The numbers are more than enough to establish a good public transit system. It’s political/cultural will that is missing more than anything else. As I said before, we have choices.

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