VIA's reimagined Express Service is now on line. I got a door tag with two free ride coupons to advertise the new routes and buses. The buses have WIFI, cargo racks, plush seats, reading lights and hybrid engines, making them a far cry from the Express bus I used to ride back in 1983.
But in a city with a lot of traffic, how do you make the bus go faster? In about 2 years, VIA plans to have a gizmo that allows them to change red lights green, but that's a few years in the future. Other ways to make buses faster are HOV lanes (a pretty inexpensive thing to do, and contrary to car commuter fears, doesn't slow down the rest of traffic, check out my post about them here.) And in NYC they have put in bus ticket kiosks by the bus stops in order to take fare collection out of the picture, a process that slows down bus travel by 30%. After adding light changing transponders and fare kiosks, bus ridership in New York went up by 20%, in a city where mass transit is highly used that's pretty phenomenal. It's also the first time, that when polled, NYC bus riders were 98% satisfied with the bus service.
So will fancier, faster bus service catch on in SA, the jury is still out, but I think I'm going to try out my free bus rides.