Does it still make sense for Departments Of Transportation to continue to halt bus lines on Sundays?

Anyone who has ridden on buses or trains in many regions of the U.S. will notice notably quickly that the buses operate on a regular schedule during weekdays, and in many counties and cities throughout the U.S., the buses run on a reduced schedule on Saturdays, and they don’t run at all on Sundays.  While in most of the major cities throughout the U.S., the buses do run every day, in many rural regions and in smaller cities, buses only run six (6) days per week.


Does this still make sense today as we approach the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century?

How Did This Begin?

People don’t usually post reprints of bus schedules from the 1920’s or the 1930’s on the internet (though you can still find a handful of original copies when you tour transit museums), so as I researched this article, I could not find precise statistics as to when the departments of transportation in counties and cities throughout the U.S. decided that they only wanted to operate buses 6 days per week.  From what I could find, public transportation operating on a full schedule on weekdays, a reduced schedule on Saturdays, and stopping entirely on Sundays was a common practice throughout the U.S. long before buses were even invented; this practice dates back to the era of trolleys and streetcars.

During the latter decades of the nineteenth century, when trolleys and streetcar systems first became commonplace in many towns and cities throughout the U.S., notably fewer businesses were open on Sundays than today, one and a half centuries later.  This was largely due to religious reasons.  During the latter decades of the nineteenth century, it was largely considered common practice throughout much (though not all) of the U.S. that Sundays were viewed as a day that businesses should remain closed. 

We’re Now Approaching The End Of The Second Decade Of The 21stCentury- This Scheduling System Dates Back To The Mid 19thCentury

Anyone who has done even minimal traveling throughout the U.S. will notice notably quickly that we’re not living in nor working in a country which functions only six days per week.    Many businesses operate 24 hours per day.  Hospitals always need to remain fully operational 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, and this includes all of their support staff, including nurses, EMT’s, cafeteria staff, etc.  There are Sunday shifts at many industrial facilities throughout the U.S.  In some offices as well as college and universities, the cleaning crews clean the office buildings during Sunday shifts.  Although there are some municipalities which still have laws which restrict the hours that certain kinds of stores are permitted to open on Sundays, and a small handful of counties and towns in the U.S. still prohibit stores from opening on Sundays entirely, throughout most of the U.S. today many supermarkets, gas stations, convenience stores, and hypermarkets are open 24 hours per day, every day of the year except for major holidays.


People who have traveled on the interstate highways will notice that some highways are as busy on weekends as they are during the weekdays. Some tolls are still manned, the toll booth operators work Sunday shifts, as do road maintenance crews. City and state law enforcement officers work Sunday shifts.  Many Federal agencies, including the numerous agencies who are involved with Homeland Security, have thousands of employees who work Sunday shifts.  Many college and university libraries, as well as public libraries throughout the U.S., are open on Sundays. 

 Tourists like to travel at night.  Many airports operate 24 hours per day.  Hotels and motels operate 24 hours per day, as do diners and some fast food chains. In many states, bars are permitted to stay open until very late hours.

People do in fact need to travel to and from their places of employment.  Not everyone in the U.S. owns their own automobile, and it’s expensive for people to need to continue to rely on taxis, lyfts, Uber drivers, etc. to travel to and from their places of employment when buses are not running.  Even people who do own automobiles don’t always have use of their cars 365 days per year; we obviously need to leave our cars at gas stations or repair shops for routine maintenance periodically.  

There’s No Need To Throw One’s Body In Front Of A Bus To Allow For Positive Ideas

To state the obvious- if more counties’ and cities’ Departments Of Transportation were to opt to run their bus lines seven (7) days per week rather than six (6) days per week, we’d not only be creating more jobs for bus drivers, we’d be creating numerous jobs for the maintenance crews who clean, maintain and refuel buses (or recharge the buses in cities which use electric buses.) Because bus drivers and maintenance crews would be working on an additional weekend day, the departments of transportation would be required to pay the drivers and the maintenance crews overtime wages

The decision to operate buses seven (7) days per week, rather than six (6) days per week would create quite a few jobs, and ultimately would effectively stimulate our economy and contribute to economic recovery.  We’d also be making life notably easier for quite a few people who work on Sundays.

For people who do view Sunday as a day of rest for religious reasons, churches quite obviously operate on Sundays, in fact, Sundays are quite obviously the busiest days for churches. People who attend services need to travel to and from their places of worship on Sundays, as do the employees at the churches. Again, not all of these people own automobiles.

Does It Still Make Sense For Departments Of Transportation To Continue To Halt Bus Lines On Sundays?

In every county and every city in which the buses only operate six (6) days per week, the Department Of Transportation (or comparable agency) needs to have a serious discussion about whether or not they feel that it still makes sense to operate their bus lines only six days per week as we approach the beginning of the third decade of the twenty-first century.  

If you feel that this is an issue which is important to you, then tell your local politicians as well as candidates who are running for local offices that this issue is important to you.  The people who work for your local city and town councils were elected to serve your interests- as an American citizen and as an American voter, you need to let your local assemblies know what your views on issues such as this one are.

Lastly, I want to point out here that I find the same thing when I travel in many parts of Canada too.  The buses operate on a very reliable, convenient and routine schedule on weekdays, the buses operate on a reduced schedule on Saturdays, and in many towns and cities, there’s still no bus service at all on Sundays. 

Just as I’ve suggested that the Departments Of Transportation in many counties, towns and cities throughout the U.S. may wish to reconsider whether it still makes sense to operate their buses only six (6) days per week, the hospitals, airports, etc. as well as many businesses in the cities in our neighbors to the north operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, and perhaps the departments of transportation in the local governments (or comparable agencies) which are located north of the border may wish to consider this question too.

Scott Benowitz is a staff writer for Afterimage Review. He holds an MSc in Comparative Politics from The London School of Economics & Political Science and a B.A. in International Studies from Reed...

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