Would you rather bring the family to a restaurant that offers you a few pages of menu items or a restaurant that only makes two or three dishes? Probably the former, right? Now what if the first restaurant had a terrible health department record, was panned by every dining critic in the city, and takes an hour to get the food on the table—but the second restaurant has a Michelin star?
This is, essentially, the game Dallas Area Rapid Transit played this summer when it surveyed Dallas residents about its planned bus system overhaul. DART has long insisted that Dallas residents favored a bus system that covered as much of the city as possible. After all, whenever the agency threatened to change a bus line, riders pushed back. And when DART asked riders, non-riders, and other stakeholders in its survey whether they preferred a system with broad coverage over one that focused on increasing ridership, 55 percent said they wanted coverage.
But then DART asked the question again in a different way. Would Dallas residents prefer a short walk to a bus stop followed by a long wait for the bus, or a long walk to the bus stop followed by a short wait for the bus? The results flipped. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they preferred the long walk and the short wait, while another 29 percent said just make the whole damn hassle with the bus go as quickly as possible.
In other words, 76 percent of the respondents preferred the ridership-oriented, high-frequency bus network model. The question just had to be asked in a way that made it clear that they were choosing between quality over quantity.Read More