Man triumphs over Machine once again…
WVNN Talk Radio Superstar Dale Jackson and I beat the bus! We walked about 3 miles in 45 minutes, edging out Jason Marks (on the Huntsville Shuttle bus) by seven minutes. Even though walking was faster, I was a hot mess when we arrived at the VBCC while Jason was air-conditioned and fresh.
Jason had to transfer buses once, but note that he saw a total of 11 people riding both buses (during evening rush hour). The first bus was about 10 minutes late and Jason had to wait about 10 minutes for the transfer bus (route 9 to route 5). Overall, Jason seemed to have an okay experience riding the bus, however, no one who has a car would trade the 10 minute drive for an hour on the bus. Jason loves his Jeep even more now…
My interest in The Amazing Bus Race was to investigate Huntsville sidewalks. Sidewalks are the fundamental basis of public transportation and it is silly to spend money on buses (or rail) without first having a good sidewalk system. The rule of thumb is that people will walk about 1/4 mile to ride a bus or 1/3 mile to ride a train. I took some pictures of the sidewalks (/light sarcasm) encountered during the race. This is on Pulaski Pike south of Oakwood:
This is downtown on Holmes:
The City budgets about $300,000 per year for sidewalks (which doesn’t include the Federal stimulus money spent on new bus shelters). Huntsville is paying $71,000 for a transportation consultant to “to recommend new routes and other improvements”. If the consultant doesn’t recommend sidewalk improvements I’ll just consider it more money wasted on useless consultants. The City would’ve been better off hiring someone to walk around the City listing sidewalk improvements.
The highly touted and totally stupid (for Huntsville) Google Transit was an epic FAIL. Dale Jackson has more on that – I’ll just add that the people who ride the bus don’t have iPhones, and that people who have iPhones don’t (and will not) ride the bus.