Traffic congestion is a big one. If there is an accident in a high traffic area transportation can move extremely slow; especially for a bus which can’t change lanes with the same ease that a car can.
Another one is the bus route. Depending on where your stop is you may have to travel several miles away from the direction you need to go before the bus comes back around to your stop. Also some routes may have to go several blocks past one-way cross streets before it can make the turn it needs to.
In addition to the reasons aaron10 mentions, one of the bigger problems is the number of busses running at one time. If there isn’t a high volume of busses running during all hours of the day (and especially during peak hours) then people will be left waiting making a possibly short trip that much longer and therefore that much more inconvenient. Also, if the pricing of bus routes differs depending on where travelers are going, this can also be a huge inconvenience for customers because they have to pay significantly more for travel that is sometimes only a bit further out than their normal route, but they get charged as if they’re travelling much farther.
To add on to both of these answers, some cities simply do not have good public transportation systems. A functional public transportation system depends many factors, some of them include anticipated ridership, concentration of business and work locations, number of roads which access a city, use of carpooling, and total car traffic. Some cities do not lend themselves to high functioning public transportation systems which is a major gaffe on behalf of city planners and developers because it heavily affects a cities quality of life.
I live in the suburbs of Los Angeles, so there aren’t many busses or bus routes in my city. I would have to walk or drive very far just to get to the bus stop, and chances are that the bus won’t even take me where I need to go. This is a big reason why busses are so unpopular in smaller cities and towns, making cars more popular. If more was done to increase the practicality of taking the bus in these areas, then maybe it would be more popular.
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