Of Buses and Women

Today on the Streetsblog Network we’re hearing from Santa Rosa CityBus,
the only blog on the network (so far) that is written by employees of a
municipal transit agency. Their latest post laments the lack of
positive press for the bus in general:

2851696372_eb48c2aacb.jpgRiders on a Seattle bus in 1952. Photo from the Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr.

How
hard can it be to find culturally significant people, or just plain old
interesting people, on a bus? Despite all the hot press that heavy
rail, high-speed rail, light rail, and subway trains have been getting
lately, it is a little-spoken fact that of ALL the transit trips in the
United States, bus trips made up 57.5% of the total transit trips taken
through the third quarter of 2008. That is 4,699,270,000 (that’s billions) trips by bus between January 2008 and September 2008. 

It’s
our sense that bus riders are disproportionately underrepresented in
the blogosphere as well, although the post gives a nod to fellow
Streetsblog Network members Bus Bench, Boise Bus Blog, and Bus Chick.

Also today, a very thought-provoking entry from Eric Britton at New Mobility ThinkPad. Eric is calling on transpo geeks everywhere to make 2009 the "Year of the Woman in Transportation":

Transportation policy and investments up to now has been shaped almost
exclusively by males — and not just any males but males with jobs, more
or less decent university educations, a full place in the community,
and a generally serene view of the future. And oh yes, to a man, owners
and drivers of cars. (A word of self-disclosure here: I have just
pretty well described myself.)

Head
over to his site and take a look at his extensive and well-researched
proposal for involving more women in the discussion of transportation
policy. It’s an idea that we’ll follow up on in more depth later.

Hey,
we just noticed something. Is it just a coincidence that all the bus
blogs mentioned above feature at least some female contributors?

What do you think?

  • Wad

    I like Santa Rosa CityBus’ blogging efforts. Very interesting. It’s also a good form of low-cost marketing that directly engages with the public.

    From what I have seen, Santa Rosa needs this kind of engagement.

    I’ve only used CityBus when on vacation up there, and I saw record ridership last January. It was 12 people. On a 40-foot bus.

    On weekdays it has half-hourly service, very good and very reliable for a compact city. The buses are barren.

    On the other hand, Sonoma County Transit does far better. It connects Santa Rosa with neighboring cities, which are far apart. It’s a rural system with most buses not running on smooth schedules; there could be trips spaced 45 minutes apart, but the next bus doesn’t come for 2.5 hours. However, it also runs 40-foot buses and they are always packed.

    Sonoma County Transit should run on Santa Rosa headways.

  • Look up a group called the Women’s Transportation Seminar, http://www.wtsinternational.org , for the existing leadership on the issue of women in transport. While I don’t believe that everything would be better if women ran the world, there’s no question that the maleness of the industry is a very big blind spot.

  • I don’t know the exact figure, but I noticed something about the increase in public transit use. I saw a marked increase in middle class women riding the bus. In my unresearched, unwikied, ungoogled opinion I think that is women in general are hit harder in economic times. Also if there is a one car household often it is the women who have to take the bus, because the guy has the “better” job.

    I saw from my untrained eye more middle class (middle management type) women (white, latino, black, asian) in their 40-60s taking public transportation than I did men in that demographic.

    And I got the most complaints (off line emails) from women who were middle class from the valley or san gabriel about being left, having to take transit, it seemed really hard for them. This is something I have brought up alot of course I’m a woman so it coming from me is not nearly as interesting ;)

    Not a slam on you Damien, because you have been way generous, but other people. I find their apathy amazing, especially if the message is coming from a woman or a minority. It’s like what we have to say doesn’t matter until a white guy approves the message.

    Browne

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