Buses Done Right

Buses have some substantial advantages over rail as a transit modality, notably being cheaper, quicker, and more flexible. But some of these advantages can also serve as flaws -- bus systems tempt administrators into creating shoddy service and tend not to spur development. So one important issue moving forward is going to be thinking more rigorously and more creatively about buses and bus networks and what can we really do with them. The new Shirlington Bus Transfer Station in a part of Arlington County that's far from Metro seems promising in several respects. Chris Zimmerman, who's on the County board and the WMATA board, is quoted as calling it "a great example of where you can do transit-oriented development even where you don't have a rail station."

If that really works, it could be a promising model for other parts of the country where new rail construction would be infeasible but where density is sufficient to support multiple bus routes that have some frequency.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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