Transit pros and cons -


Public transit is:

Cheaper than your car
The fare ($4) for the Highway 17 Express, one of the most expensive services we cover, is 70% less than the IRS mileage allowance ($15) for the same drive. As of 2007, the standard cost of driving is 48.5 cents per mile!
Cheaper than private alternatives
Our San Francisco airport itinerary costs 80% less than the Santa Cruz Airporter. According to their telephone clerk, the Airporter makes multiple stops and doesn’t run during the late-night hours. We think public transit provides comparable service at a much lower fare.
Not too slow
Our slowest itineraries take about twice as long as driving. Even so, it’s useful time: you can work on your laptop, watch a DVD, read a book, or sleep. In some cases, you can even have a beer!

Presumed disadvantages, and our response

You’re a loser if you ride the bus. You must be poor [paradoxical, considering the cost of a car]. You can never go out. You have to wait hours and hours when you need to go somewhere. You have to ride in dumpy, old buses. You certainly can’t get a date. These are some of the false judgments people make about the small minority of Americans who still use public transit.

Ironically, politicians and planners make the same judgments. Like most Americans, they drive. They love transit, as long as somebody else is using it. Sometimes they love it so much that they waste money on big transit projects that make life worse for the user — or block other projects that would actually help.

Sincere transit supporters also make false judgments. Sometimes, they criticize people who drive, or try to force lifestyle changes on them.

Here at, we don’t expect you to start eating granola and letting your hair grow. We think driving is a great choice. We also think taking transit can be a great choice.

We realize that there’s no choice if you don’t have quick, complete, and candid information. After years of using transit around the United States and abroad, we can say that transit agencies are not the best at providing information.

Quick means being able to…
…find out how to get from here to there with just one mouse click. We don’t make you study the fare structure; play “guess the right bus number”; buy Christmas ornaments [a real example from the home page of one San Francisco Bay Area transit agency!]; or look at pictures of the board of directors. We tell you which bus to take, how much it costs, and how often it comes.
Complete means being able to…
…learn about different transit services in one place. Our itinerary pages cover all of the buses and trains you’ll need during your trip. We don’t stop at the county line, even if the transit agency does.
Candid means being able to…
…tell what’s good and what’s bad. If a train is usually late, we say so. If a bus stop is remote and desolate, we warn you. In general, we try to include the best services and leave out the worst ones.

We welcome your comments and contributions. If you dislike our Web site, tell us, in the public forum, how we can do better. If you like our site, tell a friend. Also, please consider donating time, supplies, equipment, or money. From the reporting to the Web server, is an all-volunteer effort. We don’t receive a cent from the transit agencies, destinations, and attractions that we feature.

To people with disabilities:

Most of the transit services we feature are portrayed by transit agencies as accessible. Unfortunately, some services, destinations, and local attractions are not accessible. Call ahead to make sure.

Generally, you will pay half the listed fare. Exceptions include Amtrak, which isn’t subject to this rule, and BART, which doesn’t sell discount tickets at its stations.

Our Web site meets the highest government and industry standards for Web accessibility. We did this voluntarily. Transit agencies are required to meet the basic government standard, but some don’t bother even with that. See our site map for accessibility information.

To bike riders:

Most of the transit services we feature do accept bikes. Call ahead to check on the current rules.

To veteran transit users:

You may know about services, connections, and discounts that we didn’t include. We emphasized simplicity and consistency. People who try our itineraries will quickly discover some of the same inside tips that you now know. You can help by giving advice in our public forum. Be sure to tell us if there’s a mistake or a serious omission.

To representatives:

If you have concerns about our coverage of the transit agency, destination, or attraction that you represent, let us know. If you like what we have to say, please consider making a donation. Better yet, set up a discount or a coupon offer for people who use our site. We’ll gladly mention it!

© 2001-2008, Paul Marcelin. This Web site is a public service, not affiliated with any transportation provider.