20 January 2011

91: Considering Scale Over Self

How many bus trips do you think occur on the average weekday in San Antonio?

As recently as 2008, almost 150,000 daily trips were made on VIA buses in San Antonio.

Consider that. 150,000.

Sometimes we forget that the world does not revolve around us. Ride the bus for a week and you, too, can have that perspective readjusted.

My bus experience has often been less than stellar, with wait times that were longer than I thought they should be or when the service/routes seemed to really be irrationally odd. It helps to consider that the people running the organization have found a way to move a ton of people around a not-so-transit friendly city for about $1 a trip. And I am only one of those people.

San Antonio sprawls out in every direction, features almost no areas of any residential density of consequence, and still manages to get the job done. They have managed to acheive scale in a city that is one of the least mass-transit friendly in the country. Our city layout, demographics, land use, and historical stigmas all stand against effective mass transit. And still: 150,000 is a lot of people to move every day.

They don't cater to me, but I doubt they are the perfect service for any of the 150,000 trips that get taken every day. It is a matter of degrees for most of us.

There is a lot of talk about the difference between excellence and "good enough" which is usually followed up with the statement that "good enough rarely is (good enough)"...

Well, in VIA's case, I would argue that good enough actually is good enough. Making the most people (most = their core customer base) happy is the goal and happiness is found when a rider gets to a destination with limited cost and minimum time loss.

So for all of it's flaws (of which I will detail at some point in this space), I will give VIA it's due. They are moving San Antonio. Whether it is ideal for me or not.

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