I like to call Community Transit’s map and schedule book the “best read book in Snohomish County.” Each year we print and distribute more than 300,000 books on our buses and in the communities we serve. If that sounds like a lot, consider that we had about 9.6 million riders on our buses in 2009. I did the math and concluded that our printing costs amounted to 2.2 cents per ride (and we have reduced printing costs 20 percent below that number for 2010).
Even so, printing map and schedule books is a significant expense for any transit agency. We try to order the right number based on ridership trends, past usage and the changing nature of how people get information. We know from surveys last spring that about a third of our riders now plan most of their bus trips online. But even those people like having a book to refer to (50 percent of online survey respondents have a book). Plus, many regular riders keep one Bus Plus at work and one at home (and one in my briefcase, too).
The books are sort of a “bible” for transit users, with information on fares, park & rides, rules, holiday schedules and what to do if you lose your umbrella on the bus (answer: call the RideStore – they’ve found hundreds!). Most importantly, they contain route maps and schedules – hard to plan a bus trip without that.
Community Transit’s Sales & Distribution supervisor called me last week in his semi-annual panic mode. “We’re running low on Bus Plus books!” he said. We are only one-third of the way through the six-month life of this edition, but we have gone through more than two-thirds of our commuter books. It reminded me of a song: “Where have all the Bus Plus gone?”
So, here’s a reminder of the “re” message we’ve been putting out for the past year: reduce, re-use and re-read Bus Plus.
Finally, did you know you can now print or save your own, customized Bus Plus pages right off our website? Just go to your favorite route schedule page (mine is here) and open the PDF at the top labeled “Print or save map and schedule.” Then, instead of carrying an entire book with you, you can just have the pages you use. That helps you – and Community Transit.