There is one thing the City of Chico and/or Butte County could do that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce wear and tear on our streets, increase business downtown, help students who work and even would help those who work out of homelessness. The magic solution? A fleet of small buses running every 15 minutes.
Currently we have a BCAG committee that manages our bus system. They apparently spend all their time looking for subsidies to get ever bigger, bigger and better buses. These buses only run once an hour for most of the day, and most of the time they run empty.
Instead of trying to figure out the reason for the lack of traffic, they actually spend money advertising the bad service. They even offer to provide a gadget that tells you how far the bus is, i.e. how long you have to wait. Interesting, but not useful.
Older people and young mothers with toddlers cannot enjoy the city center with the constant fear of missing their return bus and having to wait an hour for the next one, especially with the extreme weather conditions we often have.
With a 15-minute bus service, women could take their time browsing the shops (you know, looking for those things they didn’t know they needed). They could stop for coffee or lunch in our excellent restaurants. University students might seek affordable housing farther from campus, and poorly housed people might travel to job interviews and doctor’s appointments. Those of the new pallet structures could go to grocery stores and drugstores. And we could all visit the shops and restaurants downtown without having to search endlessly for a parking spot within walking distance, and we could enjoy that extra cocktail without needing a designated driver to take us back to the home.
I realize this would be very labor intensive and licensed bus drivers are rare. I believe Butte College (always ahead of the curve) is already training school bus drivers who need the same or similar license.
None of this can be accomplished overnight, but at least it would provide an achievable goal and give our governing bodies something constructive to work on. And if that committee needs a boost, maybe a supervisor could ask them to park their car and rely entirely on public transportation for a month. I doubt they last two weeks.
Martha Claudio is a resident of Chico