Letter to Editor: Reader mystified by editorial ‘trashing’ city buses

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Editor, The Channels:
As a regular bus rider, I was mystified by The Channels editorial of Oct. 8 trashing the Metropolitan Transit District bus service. The editorial contains some glaring misstatements. For example, it claims that a bus ride from the Westside to City College takes over an hour because there is no direct link. Apparently the writer didn’t bother to look at a bus schedule. From 6:30 a.m. to 6:45 p.m., at half hour intervals, bus #17 provides direct service from the Westside to school. The trip takes eight minutes; like all MTD buses, #17 is free to students and there is no parking nightmare on arrival.
The editorial contends that there is no direct bus service from Isla Vista and therefore a bus ride from there to school can take two hours. Again, looking at the schedule is helpful. There is an express service from I.V. (#15x) from 7:45 a.m. to 6:16 p.m.; the trip takes 25-30 minutes, which is comparable to or faster than driving when parking hassles are factored in.
The editorial also features some over the top rhetoric. MTD is compared unfavorably to “riding a camel through the Mojave desert” and the writer adds that “At least you can be sure the camel is not going to crash into anything or kill anyone on the way.”
These observations are wildly at odds with my experiences on the MTD and I am pretty sure I have taken many more bus rides than the writer. A bus is never going to rival a stretched limo for comfort but the MTD buses are modern, well maintained and safe; the drivers are skilled and courteous.
Statistically it is beyond dispute that someone is much safer on the bus than driving. The MTD transports 20,000 passengers a day. That pencils out to seven million a year and 70 million over the last decade. The total number of passengers killed or seriously injured during that decade equals zero. Compare that figure to the hundreds killed (including a number of City College students) and thousands seriously injured in car accidents during the same period.
The most unfortunate thing about this misleading editorial is that it may discourage students who haven’t tried the MTD from checking it out. Those that do will discover that with a minimal amount of planning they can get to most destinations in a modest amount of time.
Fred Hofmann
Isla Vista