“Don’t be a snob, ride the bus”

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I have seen this several times on the Enquirer’s comments section in relation to the streetcar, and while the Enquirer’s comments section too often devolves into nothing but random statements full vitriol and racial animus, this comment got me thinking—what is snobbish about preferring higher quality transportation?

Streetcars attract more riders than buses because they provide a higher quality of service. Streetcars cost more up front than buses because they provide higher quality transportation; you get what you pay for. For operational costs they spread the driver’s salary over 130 people instead of 30 or 40. And, properly maintained, they last forever.

Dinner at Jean-Ro Bistro costs more than a cheese coney; Christian Moerlein costs more than Natural Light—you get what you pay for. Bearcat Football tickets cost more than the Bengals… okay well maybe not everything works this way, but most things do.

Would anyone ever suggest that choosing to take higher quality roads is snobbery?

  • “Don’t be a snob, take the Reading Rd. all the way to Mason instead of I-71.”
  • “Don’t be a snob, take 2nd Street instead of Fort Washington Way.”
  • “Don’t be a snob, use the Brent Spence Bridge until it falls into the river instead of replacing it.”
  • “Don’t be a snob, drive slower instead of filling in those potholes.”
  • “Don’t be a snob, buy a car without air conditioning.”
  • “Don’t be a snob, fly only in propeller-driven airplanes instead of jets.”

Of course not.

Go By StreetcarPhoto from www.metrojacksonville.com


14 thoughts on ““Don’t be a snob, ride the bus”

    QueerCincinnati said:
    January 19, 2009 at 5:29 am

    I don’t understand this post. Are you saying that people who expect you to actually use existing public transit before demanding new means are misguided?

    Because, to me, it seems like a great argument… “I use the system, and I think the upgrades are needed because…” Meanwhile, “I own a car and use it primarily, but we need better public transit because…”


    You get my point.

    5chw4r7z said:
    January 19, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    I can see the argument because the perception is that only people who have to ride the bus ride it. University Of Cincinnati students, staff and faculty can ride free and I personally know over a dozen people riding, half living in Mason. For me, its freedom from road rage that I enjoy the most about riding the bus.
    The streetcar will just add another layer to that.

    Crazy Little Thing said:
    January 19, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    For a lot of people, riding the bus connotes poverty, slovenliness, etc. But other modes of transportation–cars, streetcars, subways–don’t. I think part of that is associated with ease. Riding the bus here, especially once the schedules get screwy in the afternoon, can seem like a crapshoot. Streetcars, on the other hand, tend to run more regularly.

    Also, if Metro posted bus schedules and digital clocks (i.e. “the next bus will arrive here at 12:32”), ridership would probably increase.

    Nasty said:
    January 19, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    I’m a UC student living in Covington and love my free pass for the Metro. It would be nice if all the buses had GPS and estimated arrival times were posted at the stops but I don’t think that will happen here.

    As far as the “snob” response you get I think that is mostly from people who have never stepped foot on public transportation but yet drive by themselves in an SUV instead of a compact car. Who’s the snob again?

    It’s too bad that people that don’t live “in” the city get to make decisions for the city.

    Mark Miller said:
    January 19, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Ditto on the GPS idea. We need an App you could download to any cell phone that finds you based on GPS, you enter your destination, and it shows connecting buses on a map in real time based on bus GPS. Then compute ETAs in real time based on speed and we’d know whether there’s time for 1 last beer before stepping outside. Someday…

    Friendly correction though; Cincinnati has more taxpayers than residents. Many folks work in the city and live in the ‘burbs. While they have a big financial stake in tax & spending policies, only residents can vote. So nobody who lives outside the city is making decisions for the city.

    citykin said:
    January 19, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    ^Believe it or not, it is not just the voters who have clout in Cincinnati. I don’t think you would claim that Carl Lindner (just as an example) doesn’t have clout around city hall, even though I assume he is a resident of Indian Hill.

    But anyway, I like this post, because I read that “snob” comment a lot also.

    Randy Simes said:
    January 20, 2009 at 1:11 am

    It seems that a lot of times the desire for more is confused with being elite or snobish. In reality I think you can want more (i.e. better transit) while also being modest. There’s nothing wrong with improving your city.

    Mr. WH said:
    January 20, 2009 at 3:24 am

    The difference between the streetcar/bus and propeller-engine/jet or no-air-conditioning/AC situations is that a streetcar is not “better” than a bus in any meaningful way. Maybe, MAYBE, a streetcar system could be set up that would be an improvement over our current bus system, but that’s comparing an ideal to reality–a false comparison.

    To prefer building a new streetcar system over repairing and improving an old bus system IS snobbery. This line of thinking can be directly traced to many of our city’s current problems: After all, why live in OTR when I can live in West Chester, where the crime is lower, property values higher, and schools better? For that matter, why send my child to a public school when I can afford Seven Hills? The cream-skimming that is the practical result of these “preferences for quality” leads to the degradation of existing systems, and, ultimately, to increased socioeconomic stratification.

    These decisions–private school over public, suburb over city, lobbying for fancy new public transportation over in-place public transportation–may seem morally blameless individually, but when reiterated across the community, eventually lead to the erosion of that community.


      cincystreetcar said:
      January 20, 2009 at 8:45 am

      Streetcar carry more passengers, are easier to board and can board more passengers more quickly. They have a smoother ride than buses, Streetcars do not have to stop for five minutes to load a person in a wheelchair, or be stationary while a young mother struggles to get her stroller and children up the stairs. They are easier to use for visitors because the tracks clearly show where the route goes. Streetcars are less noisy than a bus, they are less polluting than a bus.

      Rail attracts more riders than buses because it is a better quality transportation. Why do you think our peer cities have double or more the transit ridership we do, but are about the same size? Is Metro simply the most incompetent transit operator in the country?

      No. The other cities have rail, which attracts more riders.

    Quimbob said:
    January 20, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I’m seeing streetcars as different than buses. The strategic use of streetcars in the city make sense to me. Replacing bus service with a web of streetcars would be bad.
    Sometimes you want Jean-Ro’s. Sometimes you want a coney.
    It’s not about better – it’s about appropriate.
    I think.

    Randy Simes said:
    January 20, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    ^I agree Quimbob. I don’t think anyone was suggesting to replace bus routes with streetcars. But in some instances people may prefer to take the streetcar over a bus. That’s not being a snob, that’s just being a functionalist.

    laskyea said:
    January 21, 2009 at 12:50 am

    The bus is okay, but it gets caught in traffic as badly as any car. A streetcar’s right of way is invaluable during rush hour.

    BTW, I added this to my blogroll at http://oddcincy.wordpress.com/ .

    Mark Miller said:
    January 21, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Streetcars use rails embedded within public streets, and are therefore just as vulnerable to rush hour gridlock as autos or buses. It sounds like you might be confusing the streetcar with light rail, which does have dedicated right of way.

    Let it be known said:
    December 16, 2011 at 2:02 am


    Yes, it is misguided to think that car drivers have no right to demand better service and should instead use crappy service.

    If you went to to the store to buy a doll for a little girl and were told that you had to pay $10 just for the legs and that in order to get the body, arms, and head there has to be a high demand and that you’ll have to pay $10 for each if such demand happens, would you buy the legs?

    You probably wouldn’t.

    It is snobbery to expect car drivers to take the bus when the current system is terrible. Car drivers have the right to expect good public transport if they are going to put out the money for it.

    What good is saving money if where things stand you lose too much in rthe form of time?

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