Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rapid Buses, Noise, and Customer Service

TDP and the BRT

I haven't been focusing as much on the TDP perhaps as I should be, but as usual, Paz over at Politics and Place gives some good analysis on some fluff on the TDP concerning rapid buses. For my two cents, if Pittsburgh wants to emulate anything they should emulate L.A. which has developed a comprehensive "rapid" bus system and has taken BRT further than any other transit agency in the nation with its Orange Line and Rapid services. When it comes to levels of bus service, L.A. is a standard we should work towards.

Quiet Buses

This may be one of the most exciting topics I have ever written about in the short history of this blog. That's right folks, bus mufflers. Even if you're not transit-geek enough to notice by looking, if you ride the bus, you've probably noticed the noise improvement because of the distinct lack of that loud obnoxious Port Authority bus sound and the frequent plume of black smoke.

I love these things for several reasons:

1. Makes buses quieter

2. Gives buses, and transit in general better PR

3. Potential emission improvements

I'm not sure if these new mufflers are actually filters as well, or if they are just mufflers. I searched the web and Port Authority's website but couldn't really find out much information that would point to whether these new exhausts were filters or not. I attempted to contact the Port Authority but (surprise, surprise) have not received a response.

If indeed these new exhausts are filters, my first question, is why the hell aren't they on all the buses. This ties in well with my post about the emission reduction grants. Spare the hybrid buses for now, and improve your whole fleet using the federal money. I do not know the price of these exhausts, but think of the number old stinky buses that you could fit for the price of one hybrid bus. I don't have the facts to really do a comparison analysis, but the question is; is anyone at the Port Authority doing the analysis? Has anyone asked the question whether it would create a greater benefit in emission reduction to outfit all the buses with this new filter or get a few hybrid buses? From my experiences with the Port Authority, my guess is probably not.

Customer Service, or Lack Thereof

I don't have that much experience with other transit agencies, but good god is the Port Authority not-user friendly. From rude drivers, to tying to get information of any kind (other than schedules), I have had so many headaches it's ridiculous. When I do a post about the Port Authority that requires technical information from the Port Authority, I pray that I can find it elsewhere, because trying to get it either from calling them or through their online comments section is like pulling teeth. What are your experiences? I have a hard time believing I am alone in this experience.


Port Authority of Allegheny County said...

We'd be happy to discuss providing information for your blog. Please email us at Thank you!

Mark Arsenal said...

My experience: everything would be better if you could pay whe you board and use the back door to get off.

End transit bulimia now!

MH said...

Mark is right. In fact, I've already put that comment into their public feedback thingie.

Anonymous said...

+1 for Mark.

It'd also be nice if the drivers didn't treat you like cattle.