Public transit isn’t just for cities

We hear a lot about LRT, subways, big city transit systems. But public transit isn’t just for big metro areas. They get the most attention because the big media lives in big cities, because the dollar price tags are bigger for big transit, and many Canadians live in big cities.

But not all do.

I confess to a certain occasional fondness for rural inter-town public transportation. I once spent considerable time on the topic. This was rekindled during a visit to Cape Cod last year. Previously featured here were posts on the multi-modal transit centre in Hyannis; and the real time tracking of buses on rural routes.

Cape Cod is sort of rural. Or maybe it is just a giant low density exurbia. There are many smallish towns, few big enough to justify transit, and with too much of their hinterland outside of the town limits. There is a regional transit service for the whole cape. It has approximately hourly service.

Here is a typical bus pickup point along a highway, although the buses will stop anywhere to pick up or drop off. Just wave. Here is a shelter, a park-and-ride or kiss-and-ride lot behind it. Basic amenities like a bench, shade, and wind break.

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And even more civilized amenities like a real-time display indicating when the bus will come by, so you know your wait time.

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And at the bus  stop are buttons to push that light up a signal light so the oncoming bus driver knows there are passengers waiting.

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The buses had bike racks. In peak summer months, one or more buses tow a trailer for bikes, so that cyclists on the Cape Cod bike trail, which doesn’t make it all the way to Provincetown, can hitch a ride for the last windswept miles where the rail bed has been taken over by the highway.

I have no idea how (un)economic the transit service is, or how well used. But it has enough elements that leave this casual observer impressed.


Coming soon: cycling the Cape Cod Rail Trail.


3 thoughts on “Public transit isn’t just for cities

  1. How about an interactive screen built into the shelter? Point your finger at it (from a metre away!) and it shows you when the next bus is coming, the weather forecast, a map of the local neighbourhood, etc.

    Montreal just installed forty of them, a first in North America.

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