InstaBlog: San Francisco's Bus System

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

So, after spending a week in San Francisco, I have to say that—and I'm sure locals will disagree—I found its bus system to be both exemplary and a joy to use.

Transit that quickly connects all types of places, and that is easy & pleasant to use, is vital for good urbanism, and the city's network does that in spades. The network has a preponderance of high-frequency lines (which are clearly labeled as such on maps), making the system easier to navigate. All buses announce stops, making riding far less anxiety inducing. There are bus lanes at many choke points, making lines faster. And all door boarding is amazingly freeing: just board, tap, and go!

Obviously, it is not perfect. Headways tend to grow too large too early in the night, leading to long waits. The city's "rapid" lines are a joke—they don't begin to approach Bus Rapid Transit, and are instead just frequent lines with less stops. Some of the equipment is quite old, albeit still very functional. Crowding can be an issue at times. And some bus "stops" are a joke—they are just painted stripes on utility poles, a usability nightmare.

But still, the system connects the city in amazing ways, and as such, is well-used by all segments of society—a rarity when it comes to buses. To this observer, San Francisco's transit culture has always been relatively heavily bus-focused, but with the network as it stands now, it is easy to see why: it connects places quickly and easily.

While the system is far from perfect, I think San Francisco offers a number of lessons for other cities to follow. It demonstrates the power a small number of changes can make on the usability of the regular city bus.

Also, how could anyone not *love* the sound that a trolleybus—an electric bus powered by overhead wires, super useful for hilly routes—makes!?

Based on an Instagram post.
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