San Diego’s Aversion to Public Transportation
Despite the good local service, stigma remains
by Daniel Smiechowski
The sixty-four thousand dollar question is how do we get more riders onto our local buses? Outside the trolley, buses are not viewed as trendy and tend to be under most folks social status. Safe to say, this is a uniquely American perception without any sensible merit.
As a little boy, I remember the double decked buses of Southampton, England, the ubiquitous trains in France, the Long Island Railroad in New York and the ever present buses in Milwaukee. What all these places have in common is a demographically diverse population of immigrants with a European heritage.
Oddly enough, our community of Clairemont is blessed with relatively good and dependable public bus service. But, the key word here is public. Why are public libraries and parks hailed as valuable to society while public transportation goes wanting? Consider that there are buses east and west bound on Balboa Avenue, north and south bound on Genesee Avenue, east and west bound on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, east and west bound on Clairemont Drive and my favorite route down Burgener Boulevard which we rode as kids to San Diego Gulls Hockey Games. There also are a few routes in between and of course the soon to be trolley stations on Morena Boulevard. But, everyone has an excuse not to ride the bus. Detractors claim, “It’s too far to walk to a bus stop,” “It takes too much time,” “Buses don’t run on my schedule” and “There are weird people on buses.” My guess is that the social stigma of sitting at a bus stop is just too great a burden for most people.
In reality, however, consider that by reducing dependency on the automobile we not only save money, but become healthier by walking and socially interacting in our community. I ride the bus on a regular basis and find it rather refreshing, but I’m not proud and don’t mind sitting in a fish bowl.
It is often postulated that the golden age of the automobile is behind us as more municipalities look for alternative transportation in order to curb overcrowding and traffic congestion. Our future is clearly headed in the direction of mass transit so all aboard and enjoy the benefits of riding a bus.
Be nice, do good deeds and don’t be a stranger as we at The Clairemont Times value your participation.
Daniel J. Smiechowski has been a resident of Clairemont since 1967 and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or 858.220.4613