"Don't you think I've heard the talk? Nobody's going to tell me who to love." - Freedy Johnston
When Will Doig told us, "It's time to love the bus" last month, he was repeating a mantra that I've heard over and over from other proponents. Kate Slevin, Joan Byron, Aaron Naparstek, Walter Hook - the message is always the same: buses are just as good as trains but cheaper, we can't afford trains, so you should love the bus.
You know what I've never heard any of them say? "I love the bus." They may get excited about a snazzy bus system in some faraway country where they'll never live, but not about buses that are here and now. They never say, "If we had this kind of bus, it would make my commute so much easier." It's never about them, it's about you.
Contrast this with a train advocate like Ben Kabak or Alon Levy, or a bicycle advocate like Doug Gordon or Clarence Eckerson. When they talk about trains or bikes, it may be about you, but it's also about them. You get the feeling that Ben would take an apartment off Second Avenue when the subway opens, and that Doug cares about bike lanes in Brooklyn because he can imagine himself riding on any of them.
I don't know how Doig or Slevin or Byron or Hook get around. In New York I'm guessing it's not by bus, or else they'd be late to every meeting. I know that Aaron likes to ride bikes: I've seen his Dutch cargo bike in person and in photos.
To be fair, journalists, advocates and consultants aren't supposed to be thinking about themselves all the time. But you'd think they'd be able to find one person who loves buses, and prefers them to subways, for themself. If they can't, how can they ask us to do it?
To anyone I called out here, or to anyone who advocates buses instead of trains, you're welcome to prove me wrong. Is there a bus you love? What is it, and why? How often do you take it? Would you complain if someone replaced it with a train that was at least as fast?