You are missing the most important point– the bus only makes sense if many people ride it. I don’t care what changes you make, if people are using the bus, it is probably adding more to our carbon footprint than saving. Ask yourself the hard question as to why it is running around empty, but ask community residents what it would take to use it. Don’t be fooled again into thinking you and your Green friends have all the answers yourselves, because you don’t.
I think people will ride the bus when it becomes more convenient than taking their car. This could be becuse someone does have a car, or gas prices get out of hand, or the bus is so frequent, cheap and thorough that it just makes sense. For example, if a dedicated bus lane could be run down the side of Main Street, so that the bus could bypass all the congested traffic, then I think more people would ride it because it would be faster.
I think a local bus system has to be an all-or-nothing project. You have to make it so fast, cheap, frequent and convenient that it competes with cars, If you do the project half way, then it won’t work.