Now that I have new commute down to CMU campus, I have much more time to think (and yell at traffic!). One of the things I think about is traffic.
My house is ~17 miles from work according to Apple maps. It takes my ~30 minutes to/from work in light traffic. For me to use the bussing system, it'd take 3 stops & ~90+ minutes each way, not including driving to the first stop. So, I don't take the bus.
If I had to drive to a bus stop (<15 minutes away), and could take the bus all the way to campus in a non-stop direct way, I'd do it. (It'd be good if the bus offered wifi)
It'd be possible to get a good dataset from campus garages, monitoring license plates numbers arrival & departure times. Plus, the parking system @ CMU has a reference of license plate numbers to home address. Seems like you could come up with a pretty good time-location map for suburb-to-campus-to-suburbs. Any large business downtown with a parking system could do it.
Riders would drive to various 'spots' around the city based on where they live (maybe a large church parking lot, or mall - some place with space during the workweek). A bus would be there at a specific time, load up the people, drive straight to campus/work. Reverse at end of work day.
I wonder if that kind of bussing could catch on? I think employees/faculty/staff would like it 'cause driving in rush hour stinks. CMU should like it because if it did catch on the could reduce the amount of precious campus space they dedicate to parking lots - I'm sure other businesses would feel the same. Pittsburgh should like it 'cause it reduces traffic. Oh, and it's green too.
(Update: As someone astutely pointed out, many Silicon Valley companies have chartered bus service as described, including the infamous Google Bus)
An even crazier idea:
What if the 'spots' were public schools. And instead of me driving to one, I rode the bus with my kids to school. They'd go to class, I get on the bus to CMU. (Other parents would get on the bus to UPMC, PNC, etc.) The school busses (retrofitted with wifi) could even be used for transport. Drop the kids off, drop the parents off.
Then I wouldn't need a car during the week, & I'd get to spend more time with my kids. It could be an extra income stream for school bussing too...