Margaret Thatcher was once quoted as saying, “A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.” In fact, according to Wikiquotes, “There is no solid evidence that Margaret Thatcher ever quoted this statement with approval, or indeed shared the sentiment.” Nevertheless, people still insist that buses carry a “stigma” not shared by trains.
Portland transit expert Jarrett Walker argues that “we should stop talking about ‘bus stigma.’” In fact, he says, transit systems are designed by elites who rarely use transit at all, but who might be able to see themselves on a train. So they design expensive rail systems for themselves rather than planning transit systems for their real market, which is mostly people who want to travel as cost-effectively as possible and don’t really care whether they are on a bus or train.
This view is reinforced by the Los Angeles Bus Riders’ Union, and particularly by a report it published written by planner Ryan Snyder. Ryan calls L.A.’s rail system “one of the greatest wastes of taxpayer money in Los Angeles County history,” while he shows that regional transit ridership has grown “only when we have kept fares low and improved bus service,” two things that proved to be incompatible with rail construction.