Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Outside NY: Sunday Service is No Joke

Last time I checked, we weren't quite living in a fascist theocracy. But many public transit schedules seem to be written by theocrats. What's up with all the shitty Sunday service?

Let's forget other parts of the country. There are many cities and counties around the NY region, even ones that have quite decent bus service five days a week, that have skeletal service on Sundays, or simply no service at all. And they wonder why almost everyone who lives there owns a car!

I could vaguely see why some uptight Christian could think it was the Lord's work to shut down the bus system on Sundays, but unlike Orthodox Jews, a lot of Christians don't live walking distance from their house of worship. And in the day of the megachurch with the mega-parking lot, who are they fooling? Don't lots of churchgoing Christians go shopping or to a park after church?

I could also see why the bus drivers would like to have a guaranteed day off. If they can be called in at 5AM to fill in someone else's shift, it's nice to know that on Sunday they'll definitely be sleeping in or putting in some family time. But that's really not a good reason. In this day and age, all over the tri-state area, most of the stores and restaurants are open. The malls are certainly open, but if you live in Kingston and don't own a car, the only way you're getting there is on foot or by cab.

My guess is that Sunday service was either laid out when "everyone" walked to church, or cut back during some budget crunch, the drivers like it the way it is, and no politician since has given enough of a shit about the non-driving population to (a) fund Sunday service and (b) go against the drivers and the bureaucratic inertia.

If any statewide politician wants to be taken seriously on transit, they need to do something about this. It's a shame and a disgrace. People who live in walkable, transit-accessible towns like Kingston and Babylon are forced to buy and maintain cars if they want to get around. People who can't drive are left paying taxis and begging their friends for rides. Even in the places with skeletal service like Westchester and Nassau counties, transit users need to keep track of three different bus schedule (weekday, Saturday and Sunday) and of which routes aren't running at all.

The solution is simple: boost the subsidy for the county-level bus systems to bring Sunday service up to the same level as Saturday service. Yes, I know we're in a budget crunch, but really, some things just need to be done. And if the government won't do it, they should at least do what's necessary for private operators to make a profit on it.

1 comment:

George K said...

Actually, Babylon does have one route that runs Sundays: The N19. Not to mention the LIRR.

And if you think that the Sunday service provided in Nassau and Westchester is minimal, there are areas that still have Sunday service, but it is even more bare-bones than that. (A bus every 2 or 3 hours rather than a bus every hour)