News item: Fairfax County is thinking of eliminating more than two dozen Metrobus routes because ridership is down 25 percent over the past three years.

Why eliminate? Why not simply rejigger?

The big losers in any bus system are the middle-of-the-day runs. If you lengthen the time between these runs, rather than killing them, you will still produce considerable savings.

For instance, many Fairfax runs operate once every 45 minutes in the middle of the afternoon. Change that to once an hour, and people who depend on the bus will change with you. But eliminate the afternoon runs, and you make life extremely difficult for the mid-day shopper or the split-shift worker who doesn't own (or doesn't want to own, or can't afford to own) a car.

Sure, the union will complain if bus drivers' jobs are eliminated. But they don't have to be. The same drivers who now work in the middle of the day could be reassigned to either rush hour, or to both, when demand is heaviest. Or part-time shifts could be created. I'll bet the union would be flexible on this. Why can't the politicians?