Why is it difficult to take the bus?
Thursday, 02 February 2023
What would a bus timetable at a bus stop look like if it were designed according to the needs of the passengers?
To name just a few things: the schedule would probably indicate which stop you are at, the font would be bigger, and there would be more understandable explanations.
Perhaps the more interesting question is: what would have to change, so that customer needs were implemented?
Economists usually have the same answer: the incentive structure would have to change.
Those who design bus stops and schedules should benefit from the fact that more people take the bus if the explanations become clearer and customer satisfaction rises.
The presentation of the bus timetable for the stop closest to my current holiday home (see photos above) clearly shows that the incentives there are not set correctly.
At least passengers who do not take the bus regularly have difficulties understanding when they can go where.
Another possible reason for the bad service is the missing political awareness for better local public transport. Almost every household owns a car in Bavaria. The need for better public transport seems low. As a result, bus connections are rare, and mostly only students sit in the buses.
This is different in the neighbouring federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The bus service there is much better, and the timetables are easier to understand (see the photo below that I took this week in the village of Archshofen, a district of Creglingen). There, similar to schedules at train stations, the respective departure times of that bus stop are displayed (plus in readable type). Last but not least, there are significantly more bus connections.
Why the difference between the two bordering federal states? Maybe because Baden-Wuerttemberg has had a prime minister from the Green Party for more than ten years.
The Strolling Economist