Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Las Cruces Buses

Good morning!

We've been walking more recently. The repair on our car, originally estimated for 2 days has reliably been extended by a day each day for the last 4 business days. Of course the shop is closed on weekends.

I'm a little out of the habit of it. It's very easy to become accustomed to the seductive dinosaur-burners.

Las Cruces has an elegant bus system. It does almost everything necessary, at the minimum acceptable level. In return, the price is very low. There are eight or nine bus routes. Each is a one-way loop. I was confused, at first, because there would be bus stops on only one side of the street. Now I know -- it's because the buses only run on one side of the street. If you want to travel upstream on the loop, ride most of the way around it.

Fortunately, each loop is fairly short. Most of the buses running the various routes all start from the central transit station at the same time, every 40 minutes. They tour their loop, sometimes waiting at checkpoints to keep the time right, and often meeting another bus for transfers there. Then they return to the starting point, in somewhat less than 40 minutes, salute the other members of the herd, and on the mark, they start the loop again.

This makes transferring from any line that goes to the central transit area to another such easy. And you can transfer from any one to any other one just as easily.

The lines that don't come to the central transit station intersect at logical points, like the local mall.

My small experience with the buses so far has shown that they run on time. This is very good.

Running only every 40 minutes, and sometimes requiring riders to take circuitous, long way around paths, is not so good. But it does allow the system to cover a large portion of the city, regularly, with only one bus and one driver per route. That is very efficient. The exchanges are elegant.

All in all, it is a low cost public transit safety net. If you have time but not money, it will get you where you need to go at a low cost.

If you have money but not time, you are unlikely to want to use it. Observed ridership has been low on my small sample. Maybe I'll take a look at it during rush hour some time.

May you balance the costs and benefits of your purchases well.

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