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True or False: If the bus is empty, the route should be canceled.

Have you ever seen a bus go by or been on one and wondered why it’s running if it is basically empty? Let’s start the conversation!

Transit agencies have to balance contradictory demands to (a) maximize ridership and (b) provide a little bit of service everywhere regardless of ridership, both to meet demands for equity and serve the needs of transit-dependent persons. Buses and trains cannot shrink or expand to match the changing demands, and since the operating cost lies mostly in the driver, there wouldn’t be much to gain by doing that. Transit agencies are smart to run the biggest bus they will need, even though that means the bus will be empty at some hours, or on some parts of the route, or even on some days when demand is lower.

Especially during Covid, transit has revealed itself to be the opposite of a business. It’s a utility, an essential element of the functioning of a city.

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